Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Crankiness, mothers and bears

The bear in Nick Bland's "The very cranky bear" is not a mother, and there are no mothers in his story. However, it is very easy as a mother to identify with Bear's need for sleep and peace and hibernation - and to understand his crankiness when he is interrrupted by little ones looking for a perfect place to play!

This is our three-year-old's most requested story at the moment. Joe loves the beginning - In the Jingle Jangle Jungle on a cold and rainy day - and the rhyme of the story which makes your voice lilt up and down as you read it.

This picture book tells the story of Moose, Lion, Zebra and Sheep, four friends with different looks and personalities who attempt to play a game in a cave without realising that a cranky bear is trying to sleep. While Moose, Zebra and Lion are the braver and more flamboyant characters, it is plain Sheep who manages to save the day and appease Bear.

There is lots of repetition which is fabulous for little ones, and the rhyme makes it a wonderful read-aloud book for toddlers and preschoolers.

The illustrations, also by Nick Bland, use broad brush strokes and larger than life characters so that the animals seem vivid with lots of personality.

And as today is a cold Melbourne October day, it seems like Bear has the right idea for hibernating!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Moon books

Our moon books are made of different bits of black and silver paper, with some graph paper and photocopy paper thrown in the middle for drawing. I cut them on my small guillotine, creased them and sewed them down the middle on my sewing machine.

We have gone out every night to check on the moon. It felt like such an exciting adventure, to be out in the back yard, at night, in the dark, looking for the moon with Tom's telescope. Usually at this time we are deep in the midst of dinner, bath/shower time, bed time - but not these school holidays ...

BUT ... it has been so cloudy, that we have not seen the moon! Not once! So while the kids have sketched the backyard in darkness, and noted the day and time, and researched moon phrases and star facts on the internet, it was not quite enough.

So today, on the last day of school holidays, we went to the Scienceworks Planetarium, and we did indeed see the moon and many stars, and said hello to this floating astronaut! We watched the short film 'Tycho to the moon' and then listened to and watched a show about the moon and constellations.

The kids loved it, and it felt like a fitting finish to our moon week - or lack thereof! I think we'll have another go at moon watching in the September holidays.

Some of the books we enjoyed reading this week were:

* Fancy Nancy sees stars by Jane O'Connor
* When the moon smiled by Petre Horacek
* How to catch a star by Oliver Jeffers
* Where on earth is the moon? by Ruth Martin
* Draw me a star by Eric Carle
* Man on the moon (a day in the life of Bob) by Simon Bartram
* The sea of tranquility by Mark Haddon
* When you wish upon a star sung by Judy Collins, illustrated by Eric Puybaret

I also gained many ideas from Mariah Bruehl's book 'Playful Learning'. She has some fabulous projects.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pages and paint

It has been a while since I have posted here, but I have been busy! I've enjoyed a trip to Broome with a friend, written the first draft of a children's novel, finished a writing course at Writers Victoria, edited a few bits and pieces, including the third issue of BIG Kids Magazine, and I have started an online art course this week!

The art course is called Pages and Paint, taught by Sarah Ahearn Bellemare, and organised through Squam. I am only three days in, but already I have organised my studio space in my study, started my sketchbook and added to my inspiration wall.

I am really enjoying all of Sarah's videos and guidance, as well as all the interaction from the other participants.

It feels as though my kids are doing the course alongside me. Every morning, they watch the videos with me, create in my study/studio and are working on their moon sketchbooks (more about that later).

A photo of my new art space ... in a corner of the study.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bedtime story pyjamas from Oliver and S

Warning - this is a sewing post, not a book post - but it does mention the word 'story'! This week I have sewed three pairs of pyjamas for my kids, each one a little faster and neater than the one before. I have used this pattern, Oliver and S bedtime story pyjamas, before but I was stuck on the neckline, and just hashed it together so it would hold.

This time, I floundered a bit for for the first pair for Joe, but managed to work out my error with the next pair for Tom. Then I sewed Annalise's pjs in one day, over a few hours!

I knew it was me - I have used Oliver and S patterns many times before, and the patterns are always, always correct.

I just needed a good night's sleep and fresh eyes - plus a cup of tea and some early Easter egg chocolate!  - to gain some perspective.

I did have Tom's striped blue material at home but I bought the other fabrics from Duckcloth - they have such a lovely range.

Last night, when I checked all three chickadees before I went to bed, they were all tucked into their beds, sleeping in homemade pyjamas. I want to remember this when they are teenagers, and will only wear black and grunt at me!

Monday, March 19, 2012

A classic school tale

'I'm not interested in creating a book that is read once and then placed on the shelf and forgotten. I am very happy when people have worn out my books, or that they're held together by Scotch tape.'
Richard Scarry

Richard Scarry is a writer and illustrator from my childhood, and his books are definitely classics to keep. His annotated pictures offer plenty of opportunities for young readers to pore over the details and to make the connection between the pictures and the words.

'Great Big Schoolhouse', another school story for my school series like this one and this one, tells the story of Huckle, a young cat. Huckle rides the school bus, learns something new every day from Miss Honey, his teacher, plays in the playground with his friends (remember Lowly Worm, anyone?), learns the alphabet, counts to ten, learns how to tell the time and the months of the year, among many other things.

This book is fabulous for encouraging kids to look at books by themselves, as the labels for all the different objects make it easy for 'pretend' reading aloud. There's also lots of humour in the story and illustrations.