Friday, August 29, 2014

Reading, More Reading!

A trip to Melbourne and a disposition that means I must be at the airport hours before required has allowed me to make some serious inroads in my (very large!) reading pile.

Also I am trying to watch less TV in the evenings - not none just less.

As I am a fast reader (I think) this allows me to plow through a lot of books, you can expect rather a few reviews in the next wee while.

Speed of Light by Joy Cowley.

This was a return trip home read. The lovely people at Gecko sent this to my NZ address and my mama passed it on via my girls weekend friends! I almost read the whole thing on my 1 hour journey home (another reason to love teen fiction!). I was keen to read it having enjoyed Dunger - which won the NZ Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults 2014, Junior Fiction category.

I like Joy Cowley. I like that she sets her books in NZ settings that are so familiar to me. This one is set in Wellington and the descriptions are perfect.

The story centres around a family crumbling at the edges and Jeff the youngest son and number lover. Having a number lover myself I do like a character who finds a sense of interest and order in the world of numbers (even though I don't myself). Jeff is a character to like - he struggles with mystery and uncertainty and he longs to hold the crumbling pieces together. Cowley perfectly captures the longing of a child to love parents that are not that loveable and to hold onto hope for a family that is far from it.

The story is slightly supernatural but told in a natural way - if that makes sense. So natural it feels wrong to call it fantasy. I guess the reader will make their own call on that - it will probably be influenced by your own view on spiritual things.

The story reads well, the characters, their pain and their disappointments are convincing. It has a mystery that drives the narrative. The book is both tragic and hopeful and I think it will be one many readers would be able to associate with. Gecko recommends it for 12+ and I would agree though a mature reader of 10 or 11 may well still get a lot from it. It's the kind of book that could be used for great book discussions with older readers.

I like Joy Cowley's style of writing, it tells a story, it captures images but it does it in a 'plain' way. I can see my boys really finding her a readable choice as they grow up.

I also love the cover design. It would be a piece of art I'd be happy to have on my walls. Design by Keely O'Shannessy.

Details: Gecko Press, August 2014 RRP $19.99 NZ, teaching notes are available too.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Make My Week - costumes and fortune cookies

So you have seen the book week costumes I made - very simple but well loved!

And the pictures tell the story for these felt fortune cookies - could be very fun for a table setting don't you think?

Joining in here as always!
 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than a snappy project in a time poor week xxx

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Where I'm At

My lovelies - hello there!

So I promised some silence (I know, kind of unlikely to have real silence given my personality!!) and I thought I'd let you know a bit about it.

I am preparing for teaching this class on crafting for the non-crafty and this one about love languages, as part of Laneway Learning in Adelaide.

If you miss the dulcet tones of me being an idiot you can listen to me on this radio interview here. (Yes I did get the number of deaths from the chch earthquake wrong :o( - still learning!). I come on about about 4.30 mins.

I am also preparing for a full day session and a staff meeting session on teaching the performing arts and the new Australian curriculum.

So... you know, feeling busy but that's okay. If you live in Adelaide and want to come to the Laneway Learning classes do come - I'd love you to be there okay?

love you more than an empty day and clean washing xxxx

Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 34

Book Week - it's quite a big thing here.

We had Piglet from Winnie-the-Pooh

and we had Bagheera from Jungle Book

and I had a long weekend in Melbourne and left Daddy and Grandad in charge of getting the animals to school, of course I made the costumes - I didn't trust them with that job!! You missed me didn't you??

love you more than a curly pig tail xxxx

Friday, August 22, 2014

Radio Silence

Choosing to broadcast when the time works - this may be less frequent over the next few weeks - projects are many

do not adjust your sets

love you more than sudden static xxxx

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Make My Week - Simple

I do aim to make birthday presents and sometimes that means that are very simple.

Bounce had a party for a little friend.

He made the necklace

I made the pillowcase

Joining in here
 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than one more thing off the to-do list xxx

Monday, August 18, 2014

Weeks 32 and 33

A little man at the top of the trees

and another who was SO sick last week but still managed a delightful smile for costume fitting.

This big boy in his new hat from Ma

and a little one working to write a birthday card

love you more than keeping up with a project xxx

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Indigenous Children's Book - Emus Under the Bed

A while ago I reviewed Kick With My Left Foot which is another Allen and Unwin title produced in partnership with The Little Big Book Club. At the time I talked about how pleased I was to see partnerships to represent a more diverse range of ethnicities and experiences. This book scratches the same itch.

Emus Under the Bed is a simple recount of time spent with a precious, feather loving Auntie. The illustrations are highly stylised and have a very child like quality to them. Leann J Edwards is both the author and illustrator.

The book has a truly Australian feel to it and captures the simplicity of a child's love and excitement for a treasured relative.

Details - Allen and Unwin, pub July 2014, $24.99

love you more than a treasured memory xxx

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Make My Week - Another Collaboration

So I made a special quilt with Bounce as you recall. There were of course leftovers (always over-cater, always over-buy fabric - these are some tenants I live by)!

So Flip decided to design his own 'maths quilt' - not surprised!

It was great he lined up the fabrics and then we talked about making a border from squares so we measured and calculated the size we would need for each square. Like Bounce he made all the layout choices and I simply sewed.

He added mathematical symbols in various places and then I let him choose some of his own minky dot fabric for the backing.

I love that it is such a reflection of him - his passion and his visual asthetic for layout even though he was just playing with leftovers.

A lot can be achieved when I slow down and encourage.

Clever crafters here:

 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than 2 quilts for the price of 1 xxxx

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What We're Reading - Lucas and Jack

Recently I met the head of Working Title Press, who publish wonderful books for little people. (She is the Aunt to one of Flip's favourite friends and we met by chance in the playground at pick up time).

Bounce had already chosen one of their titles at Adelaide Writers festival when we let them buy a book each. He chose Nightwatch by Phil Cummings which is a very cute story that he really enjoys (and feels especially fond of because he chose it).

After meeting Jane I came home with a copy of Lucas and Jack by Ellie Royce and Andrew McLean to review. (Don't you love those kind of meetings??!)

Lucas and Jack is one of those children's books that makes me feel a bit tearful, we've spoken about this before! It's essentially the journey of a young boy in an old people's home discovering all these boring old people are actually interesting, amazing, exciting people, that are now old.

Jack befriends Lucas while Lucas is waiting, bored for his mother to finish her weekly visit to Pop. Jack gives Lucas the gift of his time, his story telling and his perspective.

Can you tell why this is my favourite page? Red ballet shoes - yes please!
This would be a perfect read for any families who are in a stage of visiting grandparents in strange surroundings and for families who want to communicate value for everyone - whatever their age and stage.

It feels both lighthearted and heavy weight in it's telling. There are several families I will be recommending this book to personally as they journey with grandparents and great grandparents. It would also be a nice discussion starter for teaching about aged care and the elderly in general.

Details - Published by Working Title Press, August 2014 $24.99, it also has teacher notes available with it.

love you more than books that require tissues xxx

Monday, August 11, 2014

Learning Together - I Have My Eye on You

This is a very simple way to help reading stay on track.

As texts become denser it can cause problems with keeping focused on the right word. These little googly eye readers are simple and fun to make. One ice block stick and one googly eye is all that is needed plus some glue if you don't have adhesive eyes.

As little person reads the eye on their stick matches the place where they find their eye in the text.

You can also have word races with these - call out a word from their word list, or familiar words page and get them to see if they can get their googly eye there before you.

Keeping it simple, keeping it fun!

Specific skills:
  •  help ease the frustration of a constantly lost place in the book 
  • on full page texts with faster readers it can be used as an under-liner
  • you can also use it to teach scanning skills by using it with full page text to scan for a sentence, phrase or individual words - being able to scan a text is a helpful skill as children progress further up school and need to find information to support arguements/thoughts/projects
  • fine motor skills - making it, manipulating it to point to each word

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

Friday, August 8, 2014

What I'm Reading - We Were Liars

Started this morning, sick child at home - vomit bowl to rinse on occasion, house tidying mostly done, finished reading this afternoon. I love that YA literature can be so good and so easy to read.

I wolfed this book down - like you do with great novels. You enter in, you engage and then you engulf yourself in the book.

This is the first book I've read by E.Lockhart and I want to say I loved it but that's entirely the wrong word for the novel. I submerged myself in it and I was swept along with it.

At times I wanted to cry in shuddering gasps but I was tending a vomiting child and pretending to do a thorough cleaning job, so I didn't.

Very, very readable. Very, very engaging.

This is a story of families, their perfections and imperfections, their bravado and vulnerability. A story that tells the universal tale we are very few of us fully known by those who don't call us family.

I will leave you with this quote:

That is what the children know.
And they know that the stories about their family 
are both true and untrue.
There are endless variations.

Details - Published by Allen and Unwin July 2014 RRP $17.99 Aus also available as an ebook
Thanks to A&U for this review copy.

love you more than a peaceful healing day xxx

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Make My Week - A True Quilt

A lot of what I do could be considered 'dabbling' rather than pure craft. I try a bit of this and that and seldom, if ever, follow the rules.

This quilt is pretty much true of what I said above but I feel like it's a 'true quilt' in terms of the pure origins of quilting. It's made from scraps of love - some stash Cat sent me, some leftovers from the shirt dress I made, some off cuts of other projects, edges from the sashiko (which also features here) - all as an original quilt would have been. Nothing especially bought.

And the 'pattern' isn't a pattern it's just random pieces sewn together to make chunks that can be sewn together.

Finally a 'top' emerged and I found some cheap polar fleece (I know how criminal!) and some calico and basted them together with big red stitches.

Then I hand sewed in large running stitches of cream and blue until the quilt was all wonky and finished.

Instead of finding binding (my blue scrap fabrics are pretty much all gone) I simply turned over the excess of the backing and folded it in on itself. Then I slowly, carefully stitched it down to the front so the front looks bound and the back not.

I love this quilt - I like it's wonky imperfections and its 'grass roots' feel. It's not for everyone, my mama wouldn't like it at all - messy stitching, no precision, random blues jarring against each other, old fabrics everywhere - but that's really a reflection of me (and she likes me a great deal!), a whole lot of random.

It reminds me of course that God can take a whole lot of random and turn out a masterpiece.

I'm interested does this spin your wheels or make you quiver in your rotary cutter, healing mat, clean craft space?? I'm okay with it not being for everyone - for me it's one of the nicest quilts I've made.

Joining in with perfectionists, triers, messy, perfect, cheap and expensive crafters over here:

 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than a worn to perfection handmade object xxx

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Week 31

Experiments with Dad!

For so long someone keeps asking me to get him the ingredients for different experiments from his science book and I finally got the things for one.

Of course potential explosions are a family affair here - we couldn't leave dad out.

Love the joy.

love you more than a patient request, finally answered xxx

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Learning Together - Hangman

If you don't have a good small whiteboard in your family supplies I can tell you ours is used more than any other 'toy' we have.

Hangman - a game of words. Even wee Bounce can play this. For the first few rounds he just watched and contributed the odd letter but then he decided he could do it too. Of course his words are simpler and he has less chance of guessing our words.

Why hangman?

  • vowels knowledge -  when you play hangman you learn that every word contains at least one vowel (yes sometimes that is a only a y), so you learn which vowels there are and subsequently what a vowel is
  • you also learn that vowels don't give as much meaning (chance of guessing) as consonants
  • you learn that some consonants appear much more frequently than other ones
  • you learn about blends - eg if a word ends in an 'h' it will probably have a 'c' before it, if the 2nd letter of a word is l you are going to guess letters like s and b instead of n and d
  • you learn to look at parts of a word and access your own knowledge of other words you know to make considered guesses
  • you laugh and you have fun with other family members
  • you practise writing letters (not just the ones in the word because we write down each letter as people guess it)
  • you make sure your spelling is correct
  • your mother chooses words from your spelling list for her words to reinforce letter patterns within the word and to make you laugh when you guess them

You may choose to have conversations about these things while you play or you can trust that many of these pieces of knowledge will just drop into a way of thinking as you play more and more. You are the best gauge of that one - just don't ruin a fun game by making it all about 'teaching'.

If, like me, you don't love the idea of drawing a hanging person we change it up and start drawing a picture of our word, line at a time. Or you could call it something else like sink the boat and do something like that instead.

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