Last month, I was invited by the Science Teachers Association of Queensland (STAQ) to present a talk about using picture books in science lessons as part of their Growing Science webinars in the lead up to Science Week. What a great opportunity — picture books and science. What’s to not like? Picture books are one of the best ways I know of turning young children onto two of my favourite things — reading and learning.
You can find out more about the webinar series and access recordings and free resources on the STAQ website here.
Below is a brief version of the article I wrote as the basis of my presentation.
Deidre laughed, sang and clapped on cue at her first-ever real live Christmas pantomime, until … the clowns prepared the cake. Deidre knew how to make cakes — she’d made them with her mum. The clowns obviously didn’t — tipping more flour over each other than into the pan, splashing the milk, and cracking in eggs, shells and all. The audience roared as the clowns placed a lid on the pan, shook it vigorously, then tipped out a magnificent cake. When offered a slice, Deidre folded her arms and clamped her lips. A cake made like that could never taste good.
This story is inspired by a true event. However, the only thing I remember is being horrified at the way the clowns put everything into the pan, including the egg shells, and turned out a cake. In writing, I tried to get back to what an expanded memory may have included. I hope it has worked.
The thought of being horrified at everything going into the pan in which the cake is to be cooked is now quite funny, as I know there are quite a few recipes made that way; including one of my favourites to make with children. If I was to ever be in a cooking show, this is what I’d make. And there’s not even an egg in sight.
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon bi-carbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 cup milk
2/3 cup miniature marshmallows
A cake pan
A cup measure
A mixing spoon
1. Preheat the oven to 180° (350⁰F, Gas mark #4)
2. Put the flour, sugars, salt and cocoa in the cake pan. Mix them carefully. You will have the light brown moon sand.
3. Use the mixing spoon to make a big crater in the middle so the bottom of the pan shows through. Make another medium-sized crater and a little crater.
4. Put the baking soda in the medium-sized crater.
5. Pour the melted butter into the big crater.
6. Pour the vanilla into the little crater.
7. Pour the vinegar onto the bi-carb soda in the medium-sized crater. Watch it become a bubbling, foaming volcano.
8. When the volcano stops foaming, pour the milk over the moon sand and carefully mix it all together until it looks like smooth moon mud.
9. Scatter marshmallow rocks over the surface.
10. Bake it for around 35 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the centre comes out dry. Let the cake cool in the pan.
Over to the Wilderness Society for their announcement:
The winners for this year’s Environment Award for Children’s Literature have been announced by the Wilderness Society during Nature Book Week, which runs between 6 – 12 September.
Now in its 27th year, the Wilderness Society shortlists the best children’s nature books before a panel of judges crowns a winner for three categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Picture Fiction. The award showcases and celebrates some of the best writers and illustrators working in children’s literature.
Note: This article was first written for and published at the Carrot Ranch Literary Community as part of a series supporting parents with children learning at home. The focus of the article is early childhood development and contains information and ideas that teachers and schools may find suitable for sharing with parents.
The early years are crucial to child development and what happens in those years can be used to predict, to some extent, what will happen in that’s child’s future.
I had already intended sharing videos about early childhood development in this post, and still will. But when my sister told me about this Ted Talk by Molly Wright, a pretty amazing 7-year-old, I just knew I had to share it first. She does a great job of summing up the importance of the early years. I’m not going to summarise her talk for you as it’s only 7 ½ minutes long and I’m sure you will enjoy it more coming from Molly.
For me, the only thing she leaves out that I wish she had included is reading stories. Although it’s probably understood, I would like to have heard it mentioned.
Now back to my original plan of sharing two Ted Talks.
(Tip: I understand that watching talks can be time consuming. I find I can often follow them just as well, or better, when I watch them at increased speed. In case you don’t know, to do this is easy. Click on the Settings cogwheel, select Playback speed and choose the speed that suits you. I often try 1.75 first and adjust down if necessary.)
The first talk is Lessons from the longest study on human development by Helen Pearson.
Karen Hendriks is a children’s author who lives in a small seaside village in Shellharbour, New South Wales. Picture books are her favourite kind of books. Karen adores how words and pictures join together to create story magic in picture books. Karen is very passionate about writing quality stories for children.
About Home — the blub
War ends, yet its dark shadow remains.
A family is forced to flee their home.
As they journey through hunger, long cold nights, and homelessness,
a heart locket whispers words of hope.
And a country that’s far away,
calls for those that are no longer wanted.
It offers new beginnings and a precious place, once more to call home.
Between 1945 and 1946, three million Sudeten Germans were expelled from the Sudeten Mountains to Germany, Austria and the Soviet Zone. It was the largest forced refugee movement of a single population in the 20th century. I always felt the deep sadness inside my Oma about the loss of her family home. This pulled at me to write about losing home. When researching for Home I discovered that my Mum, Oma and great Oma and Opa were Sudeten Germans. My Mum was a baby when they were forced to leave their mountain village called Wunschendorf, in Czech. It is now known as Srbska. My great Opa was in still in a concentration camp for opposing Hitler. So it was my Mum as a baby, Oma and Great Oma and they walked from their village to East Germany. This story is so important to me because the plight of the Sudeten Germans is not really known and their story is my story, too.
You can read more about Hendriks’s family and the illustrator in this post on Just Write for Kids.
I previously introduced you to Allison when I interviewed her about her non-fiction book Australia Remembers: Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and War Memorials.
About Allison Paterson
Allison Marlow Paterson is an Australian Author who writes stories for children and adults.
Allison’s writing reflects her passion for the past. In addition to creating books for adults and picture books about growing up on the farm, she is the author of the ABIA and CBCA notable title Anzac Sons: Five Brothers on the Western Front.
I Wonder is Allison’s latest picture book for children and is inspired by Australia’s beautiful beaches and her concern for the environment
The Sunshine Coast is where Allison enjoys life as a writer, presenter and publishing consultant.
About I Wonder
The little wooden boat has been left behind in the sand dunes. Odd things pass it by, tumbling and floating into the ocean – a chip packet, a takeaway cup and a plastic bag. The little wooden boat wonders and worries … Is it a forgotten thing? Is it just rubbish now? Will it ever find a home again? This delightful tale will inspire readers to take the small steps needed to care for their world – no matter how young they are!
Here is a wonderful video promoting fruits and vegetables for the International Year.
The video is fun to watch and makes my mouth water with all the bright and colourful photographs of delicious fruits and vegetables. If you watch the video with your students, it may lead to many and varied follow-up discussions and activities. Here are just a few suggestions.
What fruits and vegetables can you name?
Which of them are fruits and which are vegetables?
What is the difference between fruit and vegetables?
Which of these fruits and vegetables have you tried?
Which is/are your favourites?
Is your favourite included in the video?
What is your favourite way to eat these fruits and vegetables?
Extend vocabulary — make a list describing the fruits and vegetables and what children like about them; for example: sweet, juicy, crunchy, soft, ripe, nutritious, delicious, raw, cooked, bitter, exotic.
Have children draw or write about their favourite fruit or vegetable treat.
Set up a fruit and vegetable market in the classroom using laminated children’s drawings or images cut from magazines; plastic, wooden or paper mache fruit and vegetables, and use it for a variety of activities including sorting and shopping.
Make a fruit salad or fruit kebabs. Invite every child to contribute a piece of fruit. Share it for brain break or morning tea.
Make vegetable soup. Invite children to contribute a vegetable. Serve it with bread or savoury scones, which you could also make, for lunch.
These readilearn resources provide suggestions for other lunch ideas that are easily prepared at school.
How to make a healthy smiley face sandwich is a procedural text with step-by-step instructions that are easy enough for children to follow on their own with the supervision of an adult in a small group. The activity is suitable for use in literacy groups. It could be incorporated into a unit focusing on healthy eating.
Today I am excited to announce that this year’s Share Your Story Anthology, Once Upon a Whoops! is available for pre-order now and will be available for sale on 1 September.
Once Upon a Whoops! is a collection of twisted fairy tales and ridiculous rhymes with peculiar pictures, all by Australian authors and illustrators.
I am delighted to tell you that I have two fractured fairy tales included in the collection: Three Alpha Pigs and Silverlocks and the Three Bears.
Three Alpha Pigs twists the original Three Little Pigs with three pig brothers who are definitely of this century. In case you didn’t know, as I didn’t until I researched it for my story, Generation Alpha are those born since 2010. Like many of their generation, the brothers play video games and avoid chores whenever possible. They think that having built successfully in Minecraft, they’ll be able to build successfully in the ‘real’ world when they leave home and need somewhere to live. Mr Gruff, who lives next door, doesn’t think they’ll stay away from the comforts of home too long. His kids never do.
Silverlocks is an older Goldilocks. She’s done her time and wishes everyone would stop reminding her of her past. She uses an online booking service to secure holiday accommodation, but things don’t turn out as she hoped and flashbacks of the past intrude on her stay.
In addition to my two stories, there are more than forty stories and poems collected in the anthology, including some by authors I’ve previously interviewed: June Perkins, Karen Hendricks, M J Gibbs and anthology organiser Michelle Worthington. Many other stories and poems are also by already published authors with many books to their names, so I’m in good company.
Proceeds of Sales
As with each of the previous Share Your Story anthologies, sales of the book will raise funds for charity. This year’s charity is Life’s Little Treasures Foundation, an organisation that provides support for families of premature or sick babies. This includes items such as Precious Prem Packs and guide books for families in hospital.
Copies of the anthology will be sent to every children’s hospital in Australia as part of the Little Readers Readathon.
Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Claudette, the beautiful new picture book written and illustrated by Helene Magisson, published by Red Paper Kite. While Helene has illustrated many other picture books, this is the first that she has both written and illustrated.
I have previously introduced you to Helene’s gorgeous artwork when interviewing her about Magic Fish Dreaming, a collection of poems by June Perkins and Sarah’s Two Nativities by Janine M Fraser. Please refer back to those posts to find out more about her beautiful artwork.
About Helene Magisson
Helene Magisson is an award-winning illustrator. She started her artistic career as a painting restorer in Paris, where she was also trained in the art of medieval illumination.
Helene has lived in Africa, France and India. She is now settled down in Australia with her family. She has illustrated more than 15 books and has collaborated with major Australian publishers.
Recent awards include:
• Claudette, her first book as an author-illustrator, has been longlisted in the Australia Books Industry Awards 2021
• Little Puggle’s Song written by Vikki Conley, CBCA 2020 Notable Picture Book of the Year
• Slowly! Slowly! written by T.M. Clark, CBCA 2018 Notable Picture Book of the Year
Loutka is a brilliant puppet maker. All of his creations work perfectly, just as he expects them to. Except for Claudette. She is a rickety misfit who longs for freedom and adventure. What can be done with such a puppet? Loutka doesn’t know.
So Claudette stays on the shelf. Until one incredible day…
Claudette takes the reader on a courageous and magical adventure beyond the clouds, discovering the power of beauty, possibility and self-worth along the way.