I enjoyed Songbird Superhero, so was delighted when Karen approached me to participate in her blog tour. The fact that the book is about bugs may have something to do with it. As you saw last week, I am a fan of minibeasts, including bugs.
As soon as Karen announced the release of her book, I purchased an advance copy and was able to post a pre-review on Goodreads. This is what I wrote:
I loved Song Bird Superhero and wondered if a sequel could possibly match it. But with The Battle of Bug World, Karen Tyrrell didn’t just match it, she surpassed it!
This fast-paced page-turning story is packed with disasters that even Song Bird is not sure she can fix.
What is that nasty Frank Furter up to now? And what’s with the severe thunder storm hovering above his house? What’s happened to all the bees? And why has Song Bird’s sister
Are you a daydreamer? Were you accused of daydreaming at school? Many of us were. With minds that are easily distracted and work that is less than exciting, it is easy for thoughts to drift away into other realms. It can take anything, or nothing, and it is often difficult to back-track from where we find ourselves, along the path of thoughts to what initiated the journey. It can be no more tangible that the dream that escapes upon waking.
While daydreaming can be pleasant and good for relaxation and creativity, it is often frowned upon in students meant to be concentrating on what they are to learn. Children would probably find it easier to attend if the work was tailored to their needs, initiated by their interests, and involved them as participants rather than recipients. The fifteen minutes of play per hour that Finnish children enjoy would also help, I’m sure, in giving time for minds to be, not corralled into predetermined channels.
In this Conversation on Daydreaming with Jerome L. Singer in Scientific American by Scott Barry Kaufman on 10 December, 2013, Singer says, “I think that teachers need to recognize that often, the daydreaming is because some of the kids are bored”.
Whether through boredom or not, daydreaming can sometimes lead to breakthroughs in solving problems, creativity and productivity as described in this CNN article by Brigid Schulte For a more productive life, daydream. Brigid lists a number of daydreamers; including:
J K Rowling
Other famous daydreamers include:
J. R. R. Tolkien
Here are a few other quotes about the importance of daydreaming:
Keith Richards is reported as saying that “Satisfaction”, the Rolling Stones’ most famous hit, came to him in a dream, and
Paul McCartney says the same thing about the Beatles’ hit “Yesterday”.
Neil Gaiman: “You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.”
George Lucas: “I’m not much of a math and science guy. I spent most of my time in school daydreaming and managed to turn it into a living.”
Professor Elizabeth Blackburn, the first Australian-born female Nobel Laureate, attributes her success as a molecular biologist, in part, to daydreaming. She is reported by the Sydney Morning Herald to have said, ‘I think you need time to daydream, to let your imagination take you where it can … because I’ve noticed [that] among the creative, successful scientists who’ve really advanced things, that was a part of their life.’
While speaking to students at Questacon in Canberra after receiving her prize, she joked, ”Your parents and your teachers are going to kill me if they hear you say, ‘she told us just to daydream.’
So why is it, if the importance of daydreaming is recognised by successful creatives, thinkers, scientists, and business people, that it is still frowned upon in school? Why do we still insist that children sit at desks, repeating mundane tasks in order to pass tests that have little bearing on their future success or on the future of our species and the planet?
In a previous post I wrote about John Dewey’s dream “of the teacher as a guide helping children formulate questions and devise solutions. Dewey saw the pupil’s own experience, not information imparted by the teacher, as the critical path to understanding. Dewey also contended that democracy must be the main value in each school just as it is in any free society.” According to Pasi Sahlberg in Finnish Lessons, What can the world learn from educational change in Finland?schools in Finland have dreamed their own dream by building upon Dewey’s.
Of course, on a much smaller scale, I have my own dream of a better way of educating our children.
Meanwhile, he filled oodles of notebooks with doodles and stories.
When school was done he closed the book on their chapter, and created his own reality with a best-selling fantasy series, making more from the movie rights than all his teachers combined.
Why couldn’t they see beneath the negativity of their comments to read the prediction in their words?
Of course, not all daydreamers become successful, and not all children have a negative schooling experience. For a much more appreciated and positive set of comments, read this post by Elizabeth on Autism Mom Saying Goodbye to Elementary School.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.
Can Song Bird STOP the bully, save her sister, the bees and the environment?Karen is an award-winning author who writes books to empower kids (and adults) and help them live strong and be resilient. After many years of classroom teaching experience, she continues to educate through sharing her own story of resilience as a survivor of bullying, through her words on the page, and through her workshops for adults that deal with writing, marketing, and funding, in addition to empowerment.
Karen presents workshops for children in schools, libraries, and other creative spaces. With her flair for costuming and performance, she conducts entertaining sessions with a splash of fun staring in her own scripted pantomimes. As I was lucky enough to attend the launch of her latest book The Battle of Bug World on Saturday, I can testify to the enjoyment that was shared by all attendees.
The Battle of Bug World is a fast-paced and action-packed story that children won’t want to put down until they find out if, and how, Song Bird can save her sister, her friends, and the environment from her evil neighbour Frank Furter.
I previously had the pleasure of interviewing Karen on readilearn about her first book in the series Song Bird Superhero, and am delighted to be a part of Karen’s blog tour celebrating the launch of this sequel, which even surpasses the first.
Please pop over to readilearn on Friday to read my post in the blog tour. Read other posts in the tour by following the links below. Leave a comment on any post for a chance to win great prizes including signed books, signed artwork, and a book critique (Comment on more posts for more chances to win!)
Learning about minibeasts in the classroom is a great way of engaging children with science knowledge, appreciation of nature, the interrelationships between people and the environment, sustainability, and caring for our planet. It fits beautifully into the science curriculum in an early childhood classroom when children are learning about living things, their needs, their external features, and their life stages.
With live minibeasts in the classroom, it is possible for children to observe all these aspects of a tiny creature. They can use their observations to consider how the life stages of minibeasts compare to those of others, including themselves.
My personal favourite minibeasts for the classroom are butterflies, but there are many others equally suitable; such as:
The timing and choice may depend upon your location.
This week I have uploaded some new resources to support a unit of work about minibeasts in an early childhood classroom. These are resources I used for many years in my own classroom. I hope you find them useful too.
Butterfly diary is a free printable resource for recording observations of butterflies in the classroom. Observing the stages in these brief lives helps develop an appreciation for all life. Recording observations integrates science learning with other subject areas
Giving children opportunities to question, to be creative, and to problem solve are high on my priorities. Children need to be given the time and opportunity to figure out things for themselves. While it is sometimes easier just to tell or show them what to do, or even do it for them, it is generally better for their development, to let them have a go at finding a method or solution. Please note: I am not talking about dangerous things here like playing with fire, testing to see how fierce that dog really is, or driving a car.
If children are constantly told there is a right way of doing things, they will stop exploring, discovering, and inventing their own or new ways of doing things. This is an issue because, if we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll never progress. There is generally no harm in, but much to learn from, each successive attempt.
Opportunities to explore, discover, and use intuition are also important to the development of mathematical thinking. When children are developing understanding of number, they often invent their own strategies for working with numbers. Sometimes, as attested in this paper by Heirdsfield, Cooper and Irons, the strategies used display more advanced thinking, and are more efficient, than those taught as ‘the’ correct way of solving a problem using pencil and paper.
I have noticed a change in the speed and agility with which my seven-year-old grandson works with numbers now that he has learned there are certain ways of; for example, adding two numbers. He tends to second-guess himself as he attempts to mentally calculate using the pencil and paper method he has been taught, rather than other more effective strategies he had previously invented and used. Perhaps you have noticed something similar.
Little Koala’s Party – a story for problem solving in the readilearn mathematics resources also encourages mathematical thinking and planning. Children help Little Koala organise a party for her family and friends, deciding who will be invited, the number of guests, and what’s on the menu. The suggestion is made that children plan a party of their own and they are asked to consider how they would go about it. The discussion and sharing of ideas, rather than the imposition of one ‘right’ way, is the important thing in developing mathematical thinking.
Now it might seem a stretch to tie this in with a piece of flash fiction, but I hope you’ll be able to follow my thinking through the mist and into the light.
This month it is my pleasure to introduce you to Gregg Dreise, gifted artist, storyteller and musician. Gregg is a descendant of the Kamilaroi and Yuwalayaay people of south-west Queensland and north-west New South Wales. He is a proud ex-student of St George State School. When he visits schools and is involved in festivals, he features the didgeridoo and guitar in his performances.
Gregg is author and illustrator of three award-winning books Silly Birds, Kookoo Kookaburra and Mad Magpie. A fourth book Why are you Smiling is to be released soon. All four stories are about teaching morals. They address friendship, kindness, tempers and bullying.
Gregg also illustrated Di Irving’s retelling of the classic story Tiddalik the Frog, and Elaine Ousten’s second megafauna picture book Megal the Massive Megalania.
In this post, I am talking with Gregg about his award-winning book, Kookoo Kookaburra.
Oh, here he is now!
Yarma – hello, I’m Gregg Dreise the author and sillystrator of Kookoo Kookaburra. This is a story about
Being outdoors, especially in a natural area, is good for the body, mind, and spirit. It is so for children as it is for adults. It is great to incorporate outdoor activity into the daily routine, including the regular school day. With our beautiful Queensland weather, children get to play outdoors most lunchtimes. While one day of indoor play on a wet day is a novelty, more than one and we start to feel cooped up.
However, other than at lunch breaks, outdoor play is not always scheduled as part of the school routine as it is in Finland, where children have, according to this article in the Sydney Morning Herald, ‘a mandatory 15-minute outdoor free-play break every hour of every day.’
I support the premise of Finnish education that ‘Fresh air, nature and regular physical activity breaks are considered engines of learning.’
They must also have benefits to health and happiness. In Where will the children play? I suggested that ‘While it is great for children to have unstructured play time. It is also important to have equipment to support their play, be it imaginative, social, or physical.’ The reason for this statement is the disagreements I’ve seen occur when children have nothing to play with and no ideas for creating games of their own. It seems that many of the games played in the not-so-long-ago days, before the invention of video games and television, have been lost to subsequent generations.
In Are you game? I wrote about some of the ways playing games can contribute to the development of social skills such as:
Dealing with competition
Accepting a loss
Accepting a win graciously
When in the classroom, I incorporated some type of game, whether indoor or outdoor, small group or large group, into every day’s schedule. Some of these ideas I have already shared on the readilearn website, including instructions for How to play freeze. I recently added some Maths games and activities for the whole class #1 which include suggestions for playing outdoors, such as Odd and Even. (Both these resources are free!)
This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills is also talking about outdoor games. She mentioned childhood favourites; such as, tether tennis, hopscotch, hide-and-see, jump rope, and flashlight tag. As I do, Charli wonders how playing these games compares to playing screen games. I have to admit that I like both, but I think it would be great for children to learn how to play some of my childhood favourites; such as:
Drop the hanky
Cat and mouse
Ball tag (brandy)
Hide and seek
I’m sure you could add others. You know, all games were invented by someone at some time, and it is fun to make up games of your own. Give children a little equipment, or none, let them use their imaginations and see what games they can come up with.
I have ‘invented’ a few games over the years. Some of them are already available on readilearn, others are on the list of to-dos. They are not all outdoor games, there are a variety of board games. But Charli has specifically asked for outdoor games. She said,
Children love learning about animals and, by adulthood, must of us have a basic knowledge of many. Unless there is a specific reason for us knowing or finding out more, the knowledge can remain just that – basic, sometimes even with misconceptions. For example:
Remaining curious and continuing to seek information is a characteristic of a life-long learner. One of the purposes of school is to encourage life-long learning.
In the early childhood science curriculum, children begin to learn formally about living things, their needs, and their life stages. This knowledge helps to develop an understanding of, and appreciation for, all living things. As well as providing children with the science concepts included in the curriculum, it is important to stimulate their curiosity by encouraging them to ask questions and explore additional information; for example,
This week I have uploaded a new free interactive digital resource to assist children in their first three years of school learn about living things by learning about sea turtles. With interactive features and fun facts, the resource is also suited to multi-age classrooms. It would be of interest to any curious child with a thirst for knowledge.
I am quite a fan of the growth ‘not yet’ mindset which focuses on a belief in the ability to do and achieve more through persistence and hard work. I have previously written about this mindset in What do you have in mind? and in The power of not yet.
I wonder how compatible a growth mindset is with a complacency or acceptance of the way things are; a “This is it. I can’t do anything about it.” attitude.
When I think of contentment, I think of serenity, tranquillity, a feeling of peace and acceptance. I think of it as a positive state of mind. The dictionary defines it as:
Does this imply that there is no wish for things to be different?
I often talk about the importance of imagination and creativity to inspiring innovation and invention. But do they also require a certain degree of disequilibrium or discontent with the way things are? Is it necessary to find fault with something in order to improve upon it? How many gadgets do you use regularly, accepting their imperfections without a thought of how they might be improved? It is not necessary to have the ability to improve them in order to imagine how they might be improved.
A fun thing to do with children is to get them to think of an easier or more enjoyable way of conducting a routine activity. How about an alternative to the traditional, in Australia anyway, emu parade which has children criss-crossing the school grounds, bobbing up and down to pick up rubbish? How about something to carry their heavy back-packs home? Or something to do their homework? (Oh, that’s right, they’ve already invented parents for that!) I’m sure children, and you, can imagine far more exciting improvements.
Imagination is the driver of innovation and change. But it also requires action. It is the action that gets us into the growth mindset; perseverance, hard work and repeated attempts. As Edison is oft quoted,
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
He also said,
“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”
I wonder how my friend Pauline KingThe Contented Crafter would respond to my title question. While I know she has reached a certain stage of contentment in her life, I also know that she strives to better her craft, and does what she can to make the world a better place. How much need for change or improvement can contentment tolerate?
It helped me realise that, while they appear to be in contradiction, we need a little of both. We need to be happy with who we are, what we have, and what we have achieved; while at the same time, we need to be aware of what can and should be improved, and some strategies for action. Questioning is important to stimulate imagination, and when paired with creative thinking, innovation can occur. We need the inspiration of just one forward-thinker to lead us into the future.
The same balance between contentment and growth can be seen in children’s play. I have used it as my response to Charli’s challenge. I hope you enjoy it.
Purpose in play
They worked furiously as if with one mind; digging, piling, shaping, smoothing the sand. As if on cue, two began to tunnel through from opposite sides, meeting in the middle. Others carved into the surface, forming window-like shapes. Sticks, leaves, and other found objects adorned the structure. Then, simultaneously, the work stopped. They glowed with collective admiration. But Than was not yet content. Something was missing. He swooped on a long twig and stuck it into the top, antenna-like. “For communicating with the mother ship,” he declared. Soon they were all feverishly adding other improvements to their alien craft.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.
In a recent post I shared this Ted talk The Great Penguin Rescue in which “the penguin lady” Dyan deNapoli talks about an oil spill that occurred when a ship sank off the coast of South Africa in the year 2000, oiling nearly 20,000 (almost half) of the total population of African penguins, and the efforts made to rescue them.
The rescue was successful with 90 percent of the oiled penguins returned to the wild.
I found Dyan’s story inspiring, not only for the penguin rescue, but for the learning she credits to the rescue, especially that one person can make a difference, and that “when we come together and work as one, we can achieve extraordinary things.”
I was delighted when Dyan read the post and supplied additional information. Since so many of you were interested in her story, I wanted to share with you what Dyan had to say.
Hello Norah! I just came across your great post about oil and oil spills. Thank you so much for sharing my TED talk about the Treasure oil spill rescue, and for informing your audience about these important issues. I really enjoyed your flash fiction, and listening to Cesar Harada’s TED talk as well.
Thank you for providing information about how folks can adopt a penguin. I wanted to share the websites of a few more penguin rescue centers that are in need of support, and through which folks can adopt a penguin or fund the hand-rearing of an abandoned penguin chick. There are many organizations rescuing penguins throughout the Southern Hemisphere (there’s actually a complete list of these groups in the appendix of my book, The Great Penguin Rescue), but the following three are organizations doing great work that I regularly support and like to highlight. These are all groups that are doing direct, hands-on work to save oiled or injured penguins. (I also regularly support The Penguin Foundation in Australia, which you’ve already listed above.)
I hadn’t realised that Dyan had written a book about The Great Penguin Rescue, but I immediately downloaded and started listening to the audiobook. It is a great read and I highly recommend it. I am not alone in doing so. The book has won three awards.
In the book, Dyan tells the story of how she came to be The Penguin Lady, provides information about penguins, and explains how the great penguin rescue was carried out. (Probably other stuff too, but I haven’t finished listening yet.) I have also ordered a hardback copy as it includes colour photographs. I’m looking forward to receiving it in a week or two.
In a subsequent comment, Dyan shares some of her story:
And to answer your question about when and how I became interested in penguins, it was quite accidental. I had returned to college at the age of 31 to pursue my lifelong dream of working with dolphins (which I briefly did in Hawaii), and during my senior year I landed a full-time, 4-month internship in the Penguin Department at the New England Aquarium in Boston, MA. From the moment I stepped into the penguin exhibit and found myself surrounded by 65 honking, braying, cavorting penguins, I was pretty-much hooked. Their behaviors captivated me, and I was totally surprised to discover that each individual had their own unique personality and temperament – not really what I had expected in a colonial bird. And I wanted to learn more about them.
I stayed on as a volunteer at the aquarium after graduating, and when a position finally opened up a year later, I applied for and got the position of Penguin Aquarist. I was at the aquarium for 9 years in total, and after leaving there at the end of 2004, I founded my company, The Penguin Lady, to teach kids and adults of all ages about penguin biology, behavior, and conservation. I speak in a variety of settings both locally and internationally, and donate 20% of my proceeds to penguin rescue, research, and conservation groups. One of my favorite gigs is being a guest speaker/penguin expert on nature cruises, and next February I’ll be returning to Antarctica as a guest lecturer for Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic, which I’m VERY excited about!! My mission is to raise awareness and funding to protect penguins – 13 of the 18 penguin species are currently listed as Vulnerable, Near-Threatened, or Endangered, and that is what drives me to do the work that I do.
Thank you, Dyan, for sharing so generously.
There is much more to discover about The Penguin Lady and The Great Penguin Rescue. She is as passionate about education as she about penguins. Through educating us about caring for penguins, she is helping us care for the environment and make a better world. You may be surprised by some of the information in this wonderful educational video. I was.
And I’ll leave you with Dyan’s reminder:
You can connect with Dyan on both Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.