Shell Photo Frames

L's frame.

L’s frame.

IMG_1453

A’s frame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s nice to have photos displayed around our home, but most of our frames are a little boring. I picked up some plain wooden photo frames in Bunnings that we could decorate any way we pleased. We made them into shell frames.

Painting the frame white.

Painting the frame white.

First we gave the frames an undercoat of white acrylic paint. Both L and A got white paint everywhere, so I was glad we had the muck mat down. Painting the frames wasn’t vital, but I thought it would look better than the plain wood.

Pressing the gluey frame into the sand.

Pressing the gluey frame into the sand.

Once the paint was dry, the kids painted on a thick layer of PVC glue all over the front of the frame. I had placed some clean sand (sandpit sand from Bunnings) into a tray big enough for the frames to be placed face-down into the sand. The kids took turns to put their glue-covered frames into the sand. Just pressing the frame down into the sand was quite effective at getting the sand to stick to the glue. There was the occasional patch that didn’t have sand, but the kids just added a bit more glue and then sprinkled sand onto these places, and pressed the sand down.

Adding glue to a shell.

Adding glue to a shell.

We left the sandy frames to dry for long time (due to damp weather), and then we shook off any excess sand that wasn’t stuck down. Now we used PVC glue to add some small sea shells to the frames.  A put all of her shells together in one corner. She used so much glue to place her shells, it took several days to dry completely. L placed just a few shells down two sides, while I added shells randomly all over the frame I decorated.

Sticking shells down.

Sticking shells down.

These frames look very impressive, and they were fun to make. They will look even better once we get photos into them!

My shell frame.

My shell frame.

 

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Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend by Anna Branford and Sarah Davis

IMG_1445Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend by Anna Branford and illustrated by Sarah Davis, hardback chapter book, 109 pages, published by Walker Books Australia Pty Ltd in 2013.

Violet’s family has just moved into a new house. Violet is busy exploring the backyard when she discovers a knot in the fence, and accidentally turns it into a hole. She worries that the neighbours might be angry about the hole, so she writes a little apology note and leaves it, along with a small present in the hole. A reply arrives in the hole from Rose, a young girl that lives next door. Is Rose Violet’s possible friend, or maybe she could be a very good friend?

This is the story of a young girl making a new friend and all the uncertainty that comes with it. The story is well written and enjoyable. Violet reminds me of some children I know, and all her worrying and planning gave me a chuckle. While this is not the first book in the Violet Mackerel series, it is the first one we have read. It will not be the last. My preschooler is taken with Violet. She really enjoyed the story and I think she identified with Violet, they have some things in common, such as their collection of small items. She’s keen to read more Violet books.

There are very nice black and white illustrations throughout the book. My preschooler was particularly impressed with how Violet was depicted in the illustrations, just like she imagined her to be (apparently)! The notes that are passed between Violet and Rose are actually drawn as notes in the book too, with writing that even looks like the writing of a young girl. I thought these were a lovely addition.

Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend is a chapter book that is suitable for lower to middle primary school children. My second grader read the whole book before school one morning, finding it an entertaining story, but a very easy read. I think it would be a good book to help build reading confidence in young children.

 

 

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Meeting Jacqueline Harvey

One evening last week our school held a reading hour for Book Week. All the kids could come along dressed up as their favourite book character or in their pyjamas. A very special guest came along to talk to us.

L, A and I were extremely excited when we found out the special guest would be Jacqueline Harvey, author of the wonderfully entertaining Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose series. Unfortunately A was far to sick to accompany us to the reading hour, so L and I went alone. I was so pleased we were able to attend. Jacqueline introduced our school community to her main characters, focusing her talk on Clementine Rose. It was a most interesting and entertaining talk, which had all the kids (and most of the adults) laughing along at Clemmie’s exploits.

L with Jacqueline Harvey.

L with Jacqueline Harvey.

After the talk we were able to have some of our books signed, which was very exciting. L had her photo taken with Jacqueline, as well as with the giant cardboard cut-outs of Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose. It was so fantastic to meet the author of these excellent books for primary school children. We are now looking forward to the latest installments of Clementine Rose’s and Alice-Miranda’s adventures.

L with the giant Alice-Miranda.

L with the giant Alice-Miranda.

You can find out all about Jacqueline Harvey, Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose, and all the books, on her website.

You can also read my reviews of Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor, Clementine Rose and the Pet Day Disaster, and Alice-Miranda at School.

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Shaving Cream Play

Shaving cream in a tray.

Shaving cream in a tray.

A very easy activity for kids is letting them play with shaving foam. It’s easy to clean up with water and is lots of fun. It’s not good to eat though, so I prefer not to let Baby T near it, but L and A love squishing their hands into it.

Squishing and squashing.

Squishing and squashing.

Whisking.

Whisking.

We used a couple of plastic trays on top of a muck mat, in an attempt to contain the shaving foam. It’s nice to do this outside if the weather permits, where we can just hose the area down. L and A each had a tray with shaving cream in it. They used various utensils to mix and scoop it, but mostly they just liked to feel it, squish it and squeeze in through their fingers.

Mixing and spreading.

Mixing and spreading.

L pretended the shaving cream was part of her cafe and she made me a smoothie. A whipped her shaving cream up with a whisk, and somehow managed to get shaving cream all the way up her arms and on her face.

We have previously used shaving cream to practice writing spelling words in too. We just smooth a layer of shaving cream in the bottom of a tray, and then write the words using a finger to form the letters.

Messy fun!

Messy fun!

 

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Filed under Investigations, Messy Play, Pretend Play, Sensory Play, Spelling Fun

Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor by Jacqueline Harvey

IMG_1399Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor by Jacqueline Harvey, paperback, 133 pages, published by Random House Australia in 2012.

Clementine Rose is a sweet little girl of five living in an oversized estate house in disrepair, which her mother, Lady Clarissa Appleby, runs as a country guest house. Also living in Penberthy House, is the very old butler, Digby Pertwhistle, affectionately known as Uncle Digby. Along with her pet tea-cup pig Lavender, Clementine Rose lives a wonderfully happy life. However, all that is threatened when Lade Clarissa’s Aunt Violet appears, moves into the best room in the house with her extremely ugly sphynx, Pharaoh, and grumps and sneers at everyone and everything. Clementine Rose has never met anyone as rude and mean as Aunt Violet. How will they cope with Aunt Violet in the house, and when is she going to leave?

Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor is the first book in the Clementine Rose series from Jacqueline Harvey. It is a great introduction to Clementine, who is such a sweet and innocent character. And Aunt Violet is the epitome of sour old lady with her scary cat, and contemptuous sneering and sniping. All the characters are very well written, and the story is engaging and entertaining. The moment Clementine accidentally tosses a guest’s toupee into the fire is just hilarious, and her safari adventure in the library with her friends has prompted my kids to ask for a similar camp-out (though we don’t have fire to toast marshmallows over!). A fun read suitable for kids in lower and middle primary school, Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor will make them laugh, and will probably make them want a cute little tea-cup pig just like Lavender!

My second grader enjoys Clementine Rose stories, though she finds them a little easy going now  she will still listen when I read them to her sister. My preschooler just loves the Clementine Rose series, and wants me to keep reading and reading until the book ends! And then she wants to start another straight away. I really like sharing these books with her as well, I enjoy reading about Clementine’s adventures almost as much as she does!

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The Treasure Box by Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood

IMG_1398The Treasure Box by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Freya Blackwood, hardback picture book, published by Penguin Group (Australia) in 2013.

Peter and his father are forced to flee their home during the war. They take with them a book in a small iron box. This book is special to Peter’s father, and is the last remaining book after the local library was bombed. The road to safety is long , cold and arduous. When Peter’s father dies, he struggles on, taking the box with him, but when he can go no further, he buries the box beneath a tree. Peter escapes with his life, but he never forgets the iron box holding the treasured book.

The Treasure Box is a poignant story of war, death and loss. Peter loses everything he has ever known, yet he never forgets his father, his home or the treasured book. Some things are more important than gold, silver and rubies. Peter’s book is about his people, the people that were persecuted and forced from their homes, it is an important part of their history. When everything is lost, we still have our history and our memories. The Treasure Box reminds us of the importance of the written word and of history, which can help shape the future for the better.

The illustrations in The Treasure Box were perfectly matched to the story, creating just the right tone as the story progresses. Using subtle shadowing made some of the pictures appear to rise from the page, or created a looking-through-a-window effect. I also liked that some of the pages had parts made up of ripped texts, as if they had been made from the bombed library books.

This is a thought-provoking read for both young and old, and I found it incredibly sad. My preschooler and second grader were shocked when Peter’s father died, and the refugees buried him by the side of the road. They have never been exposed to war or its consequences, and this book was a real eye-opener. They asked a lot of questions, many of which I could not answer. They wanted to know why anyone would go to war, why they would force people to leave their homes, why they would bomb innocent people, why they would kill children, and how can we stop war. I wish I knew the answers and the solutions, and I wish no one had to endure the atrocities of war. The Treasure Box gave us a sorrowfully beautiful, age appropriate and heartfelt opening to discuss this very complicated and saddening topic.

 

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Cloth Wipes Dispenser

We have used cloth nappies and cloth wipes with all of our children. We keep a shelf of cloth wipes above the change table for nappy changes, and we also keep a pile in the bathroom. I normally sit them on the edge of the bath, but now Baby T is so mobile, he keeps toddling into the bathroom and knocking the wipes into the bathtub. I really needed something to keep them out of his reach, so I had a go at making my own cloth wipes dispenser out of a juice bottle.

Juice bottle washed and  ready for cutting.

Juice bottle washed and ready for cutting.

The hook.

The hook.

I washed the bottle and let it dry completely before cutting off the top of the bottle. I used the sharp point of a knife to pierce the plastic, and then used the scissors to cut where I needed to. I also cut a slot out near the base of the bottle where the wipes could be pulled out of.

The slot at the base of the dispenser.

The slot at the base of the dispenser.

They edges of the cut plastic were a bit sharp, so I covered them with electrical tape to prevent us from getting cut when removing the wipes or re-filling the dispenser. The kids helped me place the tape on the bottle.

The edges smoothed under electrical tape.

The edges smoothed under electrical tape.

To hang the dispenser up, I used a big suction cup hook suitable for bathroom usage. I made a hole big enough for the hook in the back of the bottle, and then used some electrical tape to smooth the edges of the hole. I placed the hook through the hole and then it was ready to hang up. I find that the suction cup hooks tend to un-suction themselves fairly regularly no matter how clean and dry the surfaces are when placing the suction cup. It’s a bit annoying, but I didn’t have any other hooks to use, so this will do until I can replace it with something more permanent. Every time I go into the the bathroom I push the suction cup back down to help it suctioned.

Now our cloth wipes are out of Baby T’s reach, and the kids can still reach them from the toilet, it nice and easy to access the wipes, and I no longer have to pick them up out of them tub everyday. Having a cloth wipes dispenser in the bathroom has been very handy.

Full of cloth wipes ready for hanging.

Full of cloth wipes ready for hanging.

Hanging in the bathroom.

Hanging in the bathroom.

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Sailboat

A few weeks back Big L brought home some Mexican take away, and the quesadillas came in these wonderful cardboard containers, lined with foil, so no food had touched the cardboard. I immediately saw a boat in these containers, and put them away in the craft box for another day.

The base of the take away container.

The base of the take away container.

A and I pulled them out during the week and removed the lid from one of the containers and turned the base into a sailboat.

Placing the mast.

Placing the mast.

A joined two pop-sticks together end to end to form a mast. I made a small hole in the base of the cardboard boat to insert the mast. A then used tape to secure the mast to the base. She cut out some pink paper for her sail and taped it to the mast. I had been thinking we would just cut one of the paper squares in half diagonally to make a triangular sail, but A had other ideas, and made her own unique sail from two pieces of pink paper.

Adding the sail.

Adding the sail.

Taping on some water.

Taping on some water.

Around the outside of the base we added a layer of blue tissue paper as water for the boat to sail on.

Once her boat was finished, A put one of her dolls and a small teddy into the sailboat and took them for a ride.

Teddy and dolly ready for sailing.

Teddy and dolly ready for sailing.

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Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

IMG_1396Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan, hardback picture book, published by Lothian Children’s Books in 2013.

Two brothers navigate the landscapes of their imaginations in a series of rules as learnt last summer by the younger brother. Never step on a snail or eat the last olive or drop your jar because you never know what the consequences might be!

A magical story about the power of the imagination, and the childhood belief that anything is possible. Rules of Summer reminds me of that old rhyme “Step on a crack and break your mother’s back” that we would sing as we jumped over cracks in the pavement as children. These rules are similar to that rhyme, with nature overtaking the lounge room if the backdoor is left open, a giant red bunny appearing when a sock is left on the line, and a tornado appearing when a snail is squished. As adults it’s easy to say that these things will not really happen, but in a child’s vivid imagination these are only some of the possible outcomes if you break the rules.

With the most engaging illustrations, it is easy to lose yourself in the pictures and re-ignite the spark of imagination and curiosity that may have floundered on the way to adulthood. Sharing this book with your child is a special journey for both children and adults, and is especially good for children in primary school.

Rules of Summer is a reminder to us all of the power and beauty of the imagination.

 

 

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Kissed by the Moon by Alison Lester

IMG_1393Kissed by the Moon by Alison Lester, hardback picture book, published by Penguin Group (Australia) in 2013.

The wishes of a mother for her child. From waking to birdsong, experiencing the great variety of nature, and drifting into dreams, Kissed by the Moon, reads like a lullaby of love between mother and child.

This heart-warming book captures the beauty of the mother and child relationship. For her child she would like the simple pleasures of love, happiness, contentment, safety and experiencing nature in all its forms, things that many parents want for their own children. It is also beautifully and brightly illustrated, a pleasure to see. Kissed by the Moon is a lovely book to read to children before bed, from toddler through primary school, it will remind them of their parents’ love and help them to settle down for a peaceful sleep.

 

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Filed under Book Review, Children's Book Council of Australia winners/shortlisted, Nature