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We’re going on an Elf Chase

We're going on an Elf Chase

We’re going on an Elf Chase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re going on an Elf Chase

Martha Mumford

Laura Hughes

Bloomsbury, 2018

24pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

We’re going on an elf chase.
Come and join the fun.
Can we catch them all?
YES!
Run, run, run!

Four bunnies set off on a jolly Christmas lift-the-flap adventure to find ten little elves hidden under the flaps. You’ll have to run, run, run if you’re going to catch them all! And there are lots of obstacles along the way, from clippy-cloppy reindeer to roaring polar bears and flippy-flappy penguins. But if you do catch them, there is a lovely surprise waiting.

With its rhythm from the rhyme and repetitive text of this delightful story and lots of flaps to peek under, this will be a popular Christmas Countdown read for little ones.  Apart from the things hidden under the flaps, there is a lot of detail to explore in the pictures, perhaps starting a conversation about winter scenes that will be unfamiliar to most young Australian readers and even an explanation of why Christmas is in winter in some parts of the world. 

A great one for the Christmas stocking. 

 

Crafty Science

Crafty Science

Crafty Science

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crafty Science

Jane Bull 

DK, 2018

64pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780241353455

Whether the little fingers of our youngest readers are making a sun clock, weaving paper, floating boats to escape sharks or concocting chocolate chunk cookies, as well as the fun there is also science involved.  Whether the final product works  because of energy, temperature, strength, aerodynamics, or the combination of molecules, simple science is behind many of the common craft activities that children love to create.

So in this new release from DK, Jane Bull has taken some of these popular projects and explored not only the steps involved in making something from start to finish, but has also explained the science behind each one.  

From making a beautiful ice lantern that could grace the Christmas table, to a balloon that doesn’t pop to investigating how beans know which way is up, there are 20 different activities that will young minds occupied and, in some cases, mesmerised, as they are fascinated by the “magic” while they learn to follow procedural texts.  Guaranteed to engage is the popular grass-head figure made by putting some grass or wheat seeds into a piece of stocking or kitchen wipe, filling it with potting mix and securing it tightly before putting it wick down into a jar of water.  Draw a face with permanent markers and place on the classroom window-sill.  Your young scientists will make a beeline for theirs each morning to see if it has started to sprout hair, and having competitions to see whose will grow the longest!  (Can you tell I’ve done this once or twice or more in my 45 years in schools?)

Learning science through play from an early age using easy-to-find materials opens up so much of the world for the young child, and with a simple equipment list, clear step-by-step instructions, lots of photographs and the simple science explanations this is a book that should be in every school collection, available on the makerspace table and also in Christmas stockings for a child’s personal library this year. 

What Should a Horse Say?

What Should a Horse Say?

What Should a Horse Say?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Should a Horse Say?

Fleur McDonald

Annie White

New Frontier, 2018

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781925594201

On her farm, Farmer Rochelle has all the animals you would expect find there.

She has a cow who says “moo moo”, a sheep who says “baa baa” and a horse who says “chick chick”.

“Chick chick?”

She really doesn’t think much about it until neighbouring Farmer Hayden brings her a box of chickens that also say “chick chick”. That leaves her confused so she starts asking all her friends, “What should a horse say?” While they can help her with dogs who say “woof woof”, cats who say “meow meow” and even a cockatoo who says, “Can I have another piece of chocolate? Squark”, none of them can tell her what a horse says.  And so Farmer Rochelle calls Dr Swan the vet. Can he work out this mystery?

Little ones will not only love joining in with all the animal noises that are repeated several times in the story, but they will also love knowing that they know more than Farmer Rochelle and all her friends.  They would be able to tell her what a horse says, if she had asked them! Perfect for helping them feel they can be in charge and this reading thing is something they can do!

 

 

I Went Trick-or-Treating

I Went Trick-or-Treating

I Went Trick-or-Treating

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Went Trick-or-Treating

Paul Howard

Bloomsbury, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

97814088922886

I went trick-or-treating and I scared… a naughty, warty toad, a sliding, gliding ghost, a howling, growling wolf and some super silly skeletons…

When a brother and sister go trick-or-treating, they compete to see who can scare the creepiest creatures. As they try to remember each hair-raising encounter, everything escalates – until they get the biggest fright of all! 

Young children love the rhythm of repetitive, cumulative text and the challenge of trying to remember all the items in a list, so this is the perfect book for those who enjoy Hallowe’en and the custom of trick or treating. If participation is the sign of an engaged audience then this will be right up there. Along with the well-chosen language that rhymes and slips off the tongue because of its alliteration, the bright bold pictures are just perfect for the age group and the sibling rivalry will resonate with most! even talking about what scares them will add to the experience.

As the event continues to gather momentum in Australia, it is also an opportunity to look past “the Americanisation” and explore its origins dating back to pagan times then All Hallows Eve as the night before the Christian festival of All Saints Day. Each of the symbols in the story and those associated with this time of year has an interesting story behind it, so this is a chance to help our young readers pose questions and then try to discover the answers.  While some schools do not like students delving into the paranormal, this is a great opportunity to indulge in all the crafts that are associated with this topic as students seek different ways to display their new knowledge. So much more than candy and fancy dress!

The Short & Curly Guide to Life

The Short & Curly Guide to Life

The Short & Curly Guide to Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Short & Curly Guide to Life

Dr Matt Beard & Kyla Slaven

Simon Greiner

ABC Books, 2018

192pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99

9780143792185

While helping students develop their information literacy skills is a critical part of enabling them to investigate the world around them, it is what to then do with what they learn that can be tricky.  As we teach them to be critical consumers of information we also need to help them be creative users of it, to interpret it in new situations, to view it from a different perspective, to ask “what if…” and to develop new knowledge and understandings.

Short & Curly is a podcast from the ABC aimed at 7-12 year-olds which asks short and curly questions about the world around them, focusing on ethics, the strand of philosophy that focuses on what is right and wrong and encourages thinking about “what should I do?”

In this print edition, using the Brains Trust – Arjun, Rabia, Koa, Sophia, and Mae – who are a team of young researchers who identify, observe and try to answer ethical dilemmas that face our students, the book puts forward a number of scenarios that demonstrate some of these issues like lying, being happy, learning, making choices, letting go, being fair, making promises, and so on. Each scenario is presented as a report rundown, a summary of the situation, which is accompanied by questions that focus thinking on the best way to handle the situation. Dr Matt responds with some ideas and poses some bigger questions that can be applied to a broader range of contexts, encouraging the reader to think about the situation from a variety of perspectives rather than just their own experience and then consider what they would do in that situation.

Philosophy and ethics seem like grown-up concepts on the surface, unlikely to have a place in the primary curriculum, but when they are expressed in the context of the everyday situations that children encounter such as whether it is OK to lie to protect someone’s feelings, it becomes much more practical and doable so this book is perfect for guiding the children’s development in this area, setting up discussions that allow a lot of perspectives and opinions to be aired in a calm, objective way, compromises to be made and solutions to be negotiated.  Not only does the classroom offer a forum for a wider variety of voices than the student’s family values, such discussions lay the foundations for calm, reasoned, evidence-based debates in the future as the students mature, are more able to cope with thinking on an abstract level and face bigger community-based issues as well as their own personal ones. 

While each scenario is a standalone within its pages, there are now many picture books that deal with the focus themes so using these in conjunction with each discussion would be value-adding in a significant way.  For those struggling with the Ethical Understandings strand of the Australian Curriculum, this is a solid base for your program, one that will reach far beyond both the classroom and a particular academic year.

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

David Whitney

Duncan Beedie

Walker Books, 2018

224pp., pbk, RRP $A16.99

9781406382495

Thirty years ago, I proudly showed off my first home computer to visitors – a Microbee-in-a-Box – because it was such a novelty to have such a thing in a home.  With its amber screen, mini floppy disks and text-only technology it was a step up from my friend’s BBC model that ran on cassette tapes, but such a long way from the devices and their capabilities that our students are so familiar with now. 

With 1988 classroom lessons focusing on manipulating a robot turtle around a pre-determined path with the only programming being done as students recorded the path it took on paper using  basic Logo language, to creating webpages using Microsoft Front Page and Macromedia Dreamweaver which required a basic knowledge of raw html, to trying (unsuccessfully) to make a cow jump over the moon using Macromedia Flash, the Web 2.0 world of drag and drop was not only a blessing for me but opened up the world of creating information as well as consuming it for anyone with a computing device. 

Now coding is an official part of the Australian Curriculum, the behind-the-scenes world of the computer screen is coming alive for even our youngest students. There are  even coding competitions for kids (Miss 12 is an enthusiastic participant) and thousands of youngsters are intent on creating the next Minecraft or Fortnite. So this new book which teaches them to create five new games using HTML and Javascript so their games will run in a web browser will be a welcome addition to their libraries, as well as that of teachers tasked with teaching this topic.  So much more engaging to have an authentic project so that new knowledge is embedded in context.  

With its straightforward introduction and each game/mission having its goals clearly articulated, users can begin at their particular ability level so that their development is based on a solid platform of understanding. With plenty of illustrations and instructions (a far cry from the confusing, monochromatic books I remember buying in the 80s and never mastering), this is a book both for beginners and the more-advanced as even the initial mission has suggestions for extensions.

Miss 12 will be delighted to see this in her Christmas stocking. 

 

Disney Ideas Book

Disney Ideas Book

Disney Ideas Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disney Ideas Book

Elizabeth Dowsett

DK, 2018

200pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9780241314210

Whether its 101 Dalmatians, Coco, The Little Mermaid, Mickey Mouse or Tangled, every child has a favourite Disney movie, and in this super-sized activity book there are  projects to accompany more than 50 of them!

 Listed firstly by the type of project and then by the movie, young readers can easily find their favourite and soon find themselves making Elsa’s sparkly cape, Buzz Lightyear’s Wings, Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage, Belle’s book garland or even doing the boogie with Baloo. Each activity is related to a character from the movie, has a list of the equipment needed, if any, and clear step-by-step instructions so that young readers can follow the steps independently.  There are templates, tips, tricks and explanations and the typical DK layout makes it accessible to all ages and abilities, although some may need adult assistance. 

Each activity provides a procedural text to follow, which could be used as a model for students to create their own, while others like the parachuting soldiers from Toy Story offer science to be explored and explained.

With so many activities, this one book could form the basis of your STEM and craft curriculum for the year, while being the perfect addition to the family entertainment library as the long summer holidays loom.  No computer screens required!

Find Spot at the Zoo

Find Spot at the Zoo

Find Spot at the Zoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find Spot at the Zoo

Eric Hill

Puffin, 2018

16pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

9780141373850

Spot and his family enjoy exploring  the wildlife park and meeting lots of new animals along the way but when he disappears, his parents have to search for him, looking behind the flaps to see if he is hiding.  Where can he be?

In 1980, a generation of children fell in love with Spot and his adventures in the iconic series with its humour, bold, bright pictures, minimal but bold text and the lift-the-flap features that invited exploration and engagement.  So this new series with its familiar format and humour will appeal to a new generation, likely the children of the original. It is perfect for starting their initial concepts about books and print and its interactivity will encourage not only a lot of re-reads but also sitting down and telling themselves the story.  #unabashedspotfan

It’s also an opportunity to talk about how Spot’s parents feel when they can’t find him and the importance of sticking together in unfamiliar places.

 

 

Lulu at the Zoo

Lulu at the Zoo

Lulu at the Zoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lulu at the Zoo

Camilla Reid

Ailie Busby

Bloomsbury, 2018 

20pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781408828175

Lulu is visiting the zoo with her mummy and her favourite toy, Rabbity.  With everything packed, they catch the bus and off they go, ready to meet all sorts of creatures. But when Lulu discovers she has lost Rabbity, she is very upset and they have to hunt for her.

This is another in the Lulu series designed to introduce preschoolers to new adventures and help them talk about those they have already experienced.  There are lots of flaps to lift to discover what’s underneath, engaging the young child not only in the story but offering them the opportunity to share their own stories. 

Stories about going to the zoo are not new but this one will be new to our youngest readers and they will learn that books have lots of fun inside them.

Something for Fleur

Something for Fleur

Something for Fleur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something for Fleur

Catherine Pelosi

Caitlin Murray

Lothian Children’s, 2018

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780734418098

Fleur the Flamingo has a birthday coming up and her friend Bo is teasing her with the clues about her present by sending her letters.  The first clue is that it is very big – could that mean there will be ice-cream mountains or ten-tiered cakes?  The second clue is that it is very strong.  Could that mean superheroes with soaring wings or body builders to carry things? The third clue has Fleur baffled – it is a little bit wobbly! So maybe multi-coloured swimming fishes or belly dancers to polish dishes.

But on her birthday there was nothing in the letterbox and no parcel on her doorstep! So she waited and waited and waited and then…

Storybooks that you can hear yourself reading and imagine the children responding to, are the very best IMO.  And that is the case with this one.  We could have so much fun trying to imagine what Fleur’s present might be and gradually eliminating suggestions as we combine the clues.

Rhyme, rhythm, and a touch of intrigue – wonderful!