Thursday, July 31, 2014

Make My Week - Dancer Dress

The church we go to provides free music lessons for kids aged 8-12 on a Friday afternoon/evening. Flip has been going and Bounce and I have just hung out in the building - so I put my hand up and offered to do some dance.

It's very simple and the numbers fluctuate week to week but it's a nice way to be involved and give back.

Cue - I have nothing to wear for this.

Cue - $7.50 for a pair of footless tights from Kmart - although the staff member I asked for help was most insistent that they are actually "leggins", to which I countered with "I'd call them tights, they certainly shouldn't be worn in place of trousers." (I'm not sure we were on the same page with that but I assure you for $7.50 these should not be worn as trousers!!)

Cue - there are no t-shirts in the world that are long enough to make these seemly or dresses I own that are 'right' for dancing or wearing with these kind of tights.

Cue - I bought a pattern, $5 (all patterns $5 this week - thank you spotlight).

Cue - I raced home rummaged through my op shop fabric (not that much of it)

Cue - I opened the pattern envelope at 2pm, cut, pinned, cut, sewed, ran out of bobbin, wound bobbin, sewed some more

Cue - 3pm raced out the door to collect children, walked home.

Cue - while children got changed for going to music on the bus and shovelled down afternoon tea I hemmed like a wild woman

Cue - left the house in new 'dance teaching' outfit.

Yes I am aware that I could probably hide a triplet pregnancy inside this dress but it works and for less than $10 pattern and all I'm happy with it.

How about you - are you a leggins wearer? what would you wear to teach dance?

other crafty ladies over here
 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than a well covered derriere xxxx

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Another Cryptic Casebook Review by Flip

It's Flip again with another Cryptic Casebook - The Quivering Quavers by Ursula Dubosarsky.

In this book Ernesto tries to write Ps and they were upside down and looked like quivering quavers. That was bad because La Bella Cucharita was scared of 4 quivering quavers. Coco Carlomagno and his cousin Alberta were there to solve the mystery.

My favourite part was the message to Alberta at the beginning because Coco used musical things as clues in the message. There were other puzzles and clues in the book to solve too.

A funny part was when La BC sent her assistant with a message but he spelled each letter as a word instead of a letter and everyone was confused.

I think that kids 5-18 would enjoy this book

Details - Allen and Unwin July 2014, $9.99 AU, available as an ebook

thanks very much to A&U for sending me this book to review.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Learning Together - Real Writing

In our house there is not a lot of writing for pleasure. Even the spelling list can be a chore. When one is given a pen he writes equations and when the other is given a pen he draws pictures of teddies.

But I do believe writing, letter formation, letter orientation, size, fluency only develops through actual regular contact between the pen and paper. So in the holidays I provided a selection of postcards and a promise of sending and I let them go for it.

I hope the recipients will be able to decipher their post, but no matter, post sent with love is always welcome, right?

I think when children are given real contexts at home, actual postcards to choose from and knowing they will really be sent then they are far more inclined to put pen to paper.

One day I want to get one of these beautiful creations for our place and I know in that it will get filled with wee notes to and from family members because it provides real context.

We also have a to and from book which we write notes to the boys in and they to us - again, well loved. (Although currently misplaced, I need to get some more - the concept is that you have an exercise book that is special to each child and you write notes to each other, as and when the urge takes. Then you leave them on their pillow. Either side can initiate and they become another special channel of communication).

When learning and practicing a skill become a chore it's great to find ways to break it up. I didn't force the postcards but I did have some they could choose from, and we talked about friends who we could send them to.... and then, everyone wanted a go.  I supported from the sideline and helped with ideas when needed but mainly I just celebrated joyful writing and the sharing of friendship.

Learning Together a series for primary aged children and their parents - activities that break up homework monotony, promote skills and create positive experiences together.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

30 of 52

I wanted to include this shot again because it so captures the wonderful relationship these 2 have.
(The Atlas has an amazing relationship with Bounce too but this picture captures him and Flip so perfectly. I love the way that I know Flip will be chatting his head off, little head down and The Atlas as he inclines to engage with him).

and also at the beautiful Japanese gardens nearby

This one so captures a wee one in action when he thought he's seen a spider

and his dear wee face, how I love it

love you more than peace and discovery in one place xxx

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Holiday Reading for Bounce and Flip

We are all really enjoying the chance to do so much reviewing for Allen and Unwin and this holidays the boys enjoyed having a special new book each.

Bounce (5) received Crikey Cat, here is his review:

Bounce 'read' the book to give me this synopsis:
There are no stars in the sky so it's not really light. It's all dark and everyone wakes up then someone makes stars and puts them in the sky. Cat runs away and goes up a tree and a big bird comes. And then the owner says, "come on cat, come on Crikey, here comes a storm! Hurry, hurry we will be safe in here". Then there's no stars. Then there's stars and Crikey says, "very nice."

My favourite part of the book is when the stars come out of the sky because I would have picked up a star and kept it. Uh, oh what is cat doing? Oh look at the rainbow in the back and it's different in the front. Anyway, it was all at night.

My question is why is there a camel?
details - Allen&Unwin, June 2014, $29.99 AU, also available as an ebook

and Flip, 8, (who was born in London) received Mr Chicken Lands on London, here is his review:

Mr Chicken lands in the river Thames and he went to his favourite hotel the Savoy. He goes to his own room that he reserved which is called 'the River View Deluxe Room'. He visits the queen and there is a flag with his self on it. He caught the underground and he standed with Lord Nelson and he got to squeeze into the national gallery.

I liked it in the book - when he rides the London Eye he looks really funny and he plays eye-spy on the London eye! I like the map at the front of all the places he passes. I like it that he goes outside every night.

My question is how many days did he stay in London?

details - Allen&Unwin, June 2014, $24.99 AU

I really enjoyed both these books. I love the illustrations of Crikey Cat - the have a real freedom and fluidity and the blues are just gorgeous!

Mr Chicken was both funny and really covered off some of London's top spots which is a nice wander down memory lane, having lived there for a while.

It's been fun for me to engage the boys with the review process. When a book arrives 'for them' I tell them that this book has been sent especially to use because the publishers are interested in what they think of the book. It leads to fun discussions together and reading texts in new ways.

Even if you don't receive books for reviewing these kind of questions can be fun for children to add to their experience of a book...

who is the best character in the book?
what part is funny?
are there any parts that you don't like?
why do you like this book?
how do you think they made the illustrations?
which page is your favourite and why?
what questions would you like to ask the author/illustrator?
have you ever read any other books that remind you of this one?

of course reading for the sheer pleasure of reading should always be the main point - that's the way I see it anyway.

love you more than special mail xxx

Friday, July 25, 2014

Books That Sucker Punch You

One Minute's Silence by David Metzenthen and illustrated by Michael Camilleri is an absolutely stunning book.

It's one of those books I wish I had written myself because it so completely captures what I find so tragic about war - there are two side and the boys (in the first world war) fighting on each side are someone's son, brother, father.... they are "not so much different after all."

The story tells alternating between pages the Turks and the ANZACs perspectives.

This is a picture book, stunningly illustrated in pencil, that should be essential reading for any student of war and any who dare to teach such a subject. It captures the 1915 battle of Gallipoli but it is so much more.

The illustrations are moving, detailed, graphic and also contain excellent topographical views of Gallipoli which will give a much greater understanding to anyone trying understand the battle itself.

It's not a book for small children but I would use it in a heartbeat for learners from about year 5 upwards and into high school and even at university level. It teaches without condescending, it stands up as a piece of literary work and the illustrations are worthy in their own right too.

I feel so moved by this book and having visited Gallipoli and seen all those crosses marking people's places it meant a lot to me.

I would heartily recommend this as an essential for any school library, teaching unit on war or ANZACs and for any child interested in war and history.

I'm so glad that he also chose to finish the book with this amazing quote from Ataturk - I remember reading this in Gallipoli and feeling so moved by the grace and love extended in it:

Heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.

thanks to Allen and Unwin for this book - details published July 2014, RRP $29.99, also available as an ebook.

love you more than a book that makes you cry and gives you hope all at the same time xxx

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Make My Week - a mightyish rug/ crafty fail

it took rather a lot of wool, it must be said - I had this vision of a gorgeous room changing enormous rug made of chunky wool on huge needles. At 8 balls of wool I decided to cut my losses and scale back from mighty to just 'ish'.

Also kind of dangerous on tiled floors.

Also notice the hole on the right corner? Me too.

Also notice a general lack of symmetry? Yeah, me too.

Also pills like the badness making it quickly less visually appealing.

Flip has liberated it from rug to blanket (not really big enough for that either).

I think I'll stick to smaller knitting projects for a while.

and over here are more ladies doing crafty things

 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than a mighty knitted rug and it's lesser know cousin 'ug' xxx

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Books That Keep You Up At Night

So you might remember how excited I was at the beginning of the month to purchase Spark by the delicious Rachael Craw.

I actually read the whole thing in 2 sittings and I loved it. (I sent Rachael one of those shouty all in capitals emails after it).

Spark has all sorts of plot reviews and author interviews all over the web (although I did consider sending Rachael some questions - I might when number 2 comes out). So I won't give you the run down suffice to say it's sci-fi, fast paced, and keeps you turning the pages because you just have to keep up.

As I read it I assumed I had it all figured out and how it would pan out - I was wrong, I was surprised and I was left satisfied but unsatisfied in the way the best books do.

I keep thinking about the characters, I want to pick it up and read it again already, I feel kind of jealous of Rachael because she 'knows' the characters, they are hers, she can just check in and chat to them whenever she likes. Rachael also knows what will happen in books 2 and 3 - she's probably already read them!!

I quite it when a book makes me all irrational like that!

Because I know Rachael I desperately wanted to like her book, and I desperately wanted other people to like it (no problems there it's all good reviews from the ones I've read), so I was a little scared of reading it. How do you honestly tell someone who has sweated and laboured over something if you don't really like it? Thankfully I loved it. When I read it again soon I am confident I will get more on the second reading too - it's that kind of book.

If you want to clap your hands on your own copy it seems to be all around the place at present. I hope you love it as much as I did - for you and for Rachael. Go team!

Details - Walker Books published July 2014, RRP $21.99 NZ, $19.95 Au, there's even a discussion guide for teachers/pupils.

love you more than a reading hangover xxxx

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Weekending in South Australia

We were invited away to share a weekend with some school families to end the holidays.

Middleton sits on the coast and the place we stayed was right on the beach.

I'm sure there is a lot to do but with 7 children and views like this we didn't seem to need any scheduled activities.

laughter, good food, lovely company, a fireplace and views....blissful

It was such a beautiful way to spend the last couple of days of school holidays and The Atlas couldn't keep the shine out of his eyes as he looked at the beach, surfed and paddle boarded.

He's a beach boy at heart!

love you more than the simple things xxx

Monday, July 21, 2014

Learning Together - Prop Stories

Prop Stories

** prep required!**

Prep - grab a box or bag and throw in some random items or cut some pictures out of a magazine.

Explore the items in the bag.

or... as I did.... while you listen to one child read give the other a bag and ask them to walk around the house looking for 10 interesting little things and to put them in the bag.

Ask questions if you think your child will need prompting or create a scenario. eg -
These items were found inside a strange bag at the beach. Who do you think they belong to. Tell me the story of how they got there. And sorry I know how much you want to read me your school story but you aren't allowed to do that tonight I need you to tell me this story instead - so sorry about that!

As they tell the story type or write it out for them. Try to resist the urge to correct their grammar - the odd correct it okay but the flow of the story and their feeling of being an interesting story teller is much more important!

Now let them decorate the story or draw a picture to go with. This is now their reading for the evening. Get them to read to parent 2 (if available) or skype a willing grandparent or friend and get them to read it.

For someone like Bounce he may end up with a story he can't actually read because his vocab is quite rich - for him I could give him a list of his sight words and fewer props and let him tell his story using the sight words and the props as his prompts. We'd also make the whole story shorter. If he is really loving it there is nothing to stop him giving me a new 'chapter' each night.

This kind of story telling is great for developing creative thinking and teaching the elements of narrative writing in a natural way. They will also attack the reading of it with more confidence because they already know where the story is heading and they have chosen the words. Yes some words they may still need to sound out but they will remember them so they go in feeling like they 'have a chance' rather than overwhelmed.

** as a side note - when you praise their story make it specific - 'I love how you describe the strange tree monkey I could really imagine him', rather than 'good story'. The first is actually articulating a skill they have in a way they can then reapply it at a later learning/writing opportunity. (That is, you are teaching them about the importance of character description, using their own work - yay you! You are so amazing you ought to be given an award!)

Take the story to school tomorrow and share with a teacher or the class.

If you have more than one child do this with a different child each night. Start with the one you feel will be most confident (it might not be the oldest!) the others will learn as they pretend not to watch!

Learning Together a series for primary aged children and their parents - activities that break up homework monotony, promote skills and create positive experiences together.

love you more than a strange prop and a creative solution xxx

week 29

Daddy and Bounce crumbing snitzel together - a new Sunday night tradition. One boy and Daddy in the kitchen.

This guy, so proud of the quilt he designed for his 'stop, collaborate and listen' blanket. (This is the back, obviously!)

love you more than a quiet morning to catch up on things xxx

Friday, July 18, 2014

100 Days Project

Here are my first 7 days - simple but I am having fun making them. Working along an alphabet theme and different topics - the first is food.

love you more than a pithy thought xxx