Tissue Paper Roses

I like having flowers on the table, it makes the house feel cheery. But then I get a bit sad when they start to wilt and go brown. Luckily, craft flowers don’t die off, so we can keep lovely bright flowers on the table at all times!

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Tissue paper circles.

Tissue paper circles.

A and I made some roses using tissue paper circles. I bought these circles in a rainbow pack, so there were lots of colours to choose from. We combined different coloured circles to make multi-coloured flowers. Each flower used five or six sheets of tissue paper.

The end of the pipe cleaner in the centre of the flower.

The end of the pipe cleaner in the centre of the flower.

The stems are half a green pipe cleaner (chenille stick). I poked the end of the pipe cleaner through the centre of the stack of tissue paper. I twisted the end of the pipe cleaner to keep it in place. Then A pushed and folded the tissue paper into a flower shape, upwards and away from the pipe cleaner stem. She twisted the base of the flower, and used sticky tape to attach it to the stem, and to keep it scrunched up in shape. We rearranged the petals of each flower to show off the different colours, and create a layered effect, like that seen on real roses.

Shaping a rose.

Shaping a rose.

Once we had a bunch of these roses, A used a cardboard roll as a makeshift vase. They look lovely sitting in the centre of our table.

Two of our roses.

Two of our roses.

Roses in a makeshift vase.

Roses in a makeshift vase.

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I Wanna Be a Pretty Princess by Heath McKenzie

IMG_1565I Wanna Be a Pretty Princess by Heath McKenzie, hardback picture book, published by Scholastic Australia in 2014.

Wanting to become a pretty princess is a dream of many young girls, but what does it really take to be one? Dresses, hair, dancing… Here are the rules for being a pretty princess.

A Princess shows the young girl what it takes to be a pretty princess, which isn’t really much fun, there’s hard work too. Some things are uncomfortable and boring, she can’t even eat all the yummy food at the tea party, and she certainly can’t just be herself.

My preschooler likes to dress up as a pretty princess a lot, so when she saw this book she was very excited. She loves it. It is very funny, and the illustrations are fantastic. The expressions of the girl are particularly well drawn, and the boy prince that comes to court her is amusing. I like that the girl discovers that being a princess isn’t all glamour and fun as they are often portrayed, there are sacrifices as well. She finds that it is far better to be herself and do the things she actually likes to do, this is a good message for our girls and boys (though I’m not sure many boys aspire to become princesses!). Pretending to be a princess, without all of the pressures and obligations of a real princess, is much more fun!

This is a nice book for preschool and lower primary school children. It probably appeals more to girls, though I won’t hesitate to read it to my son as well.

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Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek

IMG_1566Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and illustrated by Judy Horacek, hardback picture book, published by Penguin Books (Australia) in 2004.

There are blue sheep and star sheep, up sheep and car sheep, but where is the green sheep?

This is a fun rhyming search through the flock to find the elusive green sheep. The story and the illustrations are amusing, and so entertaining. The text is large and easy to read and the illustrations are simple and perfect for the story. The sheep are very distinctive, and I love all the things the sheep are doing.

This has been, hands down, my daughter’s favourite book through toddler-hood to preschool. It has been read many times, and she could easily recite the entire book long before she could read it. Where is the Green Sheep? is a wonderful book to share with toddlers and preschoolers, and older children will also enjoy the lyrical text and cute pictures. I enjoy reading this book to my kids, even if it is for the umpteenth time!

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The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn

IMG_1572The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn, paperback novel, 296 pages, published by University of Queensland Press in 2013.

Life is normal and reasonably predictable in the Blue Mountains region of Australia, where Fin is a fairly typical teenage boy. He rushes to school, hangs out with his mates, tries to impress the girl he likes, argues with his brother and is disappointed by his parents’ divorce. Such worries quickly become trivial when a nuclear winter descends upon Australia after nuclear missiles are launched between nations in the northern hemisphere. Fin and his little brother, Max, find themselves alone in a world turned upside-down overnight. The landscape is frozen and bleak, the situation grim with little cause for hope. Supplies of food and drinking water are limited and there is no electricity, no running water, and no help to be found.

What a stunning debut novel for Claire Zorn. The Sky So Heavy is an apocalyptic novel for young adults, suitable for high school students and up. I enjoy the genre of apocalyptic novels, and this book did not disappoint, though it was tamer than many of the adult novels I have read, making it much more suitable for younger readers. I highly recommend this book for high school students.

The situation in which Fin and Max find themselves is a terrifyingly realistic scenario, so well written, I could almost feel the desolation, the desperation and the fear. Life could progress just like this if nuclear war were to happen, and that makes this read particularly scary. Reading The Sky So Heavy made me want to go out and stock up on canned food and bottled water!

The characters are well developed, allowing the reader to know them, and conjure them in our imaginations. I liked all the characters, though Max was a little whiney, but what twelve year old brother isn’t! And given that all the parental figures in his life are gone and possibly dead, his reaction to his circumstances seems natural. Fin, Noll and Lucy are older than Max, but still they are faced with the same fears, apprehensions, worries, frustrations and uncertainties. Fin has the added burden of being responsible for Max. In a world that adults would struggle to navigate, this group of teenagers show bravery and compassion that would escape many, but also a strong desire to survive. These feelings are well expressed throughout the book, creating a realistic and compelling experience for the reader.

I will be eagerly watching for future novels by Claire Zorn. I think there will be more brilliance to come from this new author to the field of young adult fiction in Australia.

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Banjo and Ruby Red by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood

IMG_1486Banjo and Ruby Red by Libby Gleeson and illustrated by Freya Blackwood, hardback picture book, published by Little Hare Books in 2013.

Banjo is a chook dog. It is his job to round up the chooks and get them into their pen to be shut in for the night. He barks and chickens come from all over, except Ruby Red, who sits on the wood heap and ignores Banjo. When Ruby Red falls ill, Banjo finds her and cares for her during her recovery.

Gorgeously illustrated, this story of a wayward and head strong chook and her diligent round-up dog, is both moving and funny. I liked the barking and the squarking, with chooks flying everywhere, it reminded me of the chook yard my grandparents had when I was a child. My preschooler liked that Ruby Red ignores Banjo until he topples the wood pile, this made her laugh. I think she saw herself in Ruby Red, stubborn and resistant til the last! My second grader liked Banjo, and how he cared for Ruby Red when she was sick, even though she had antagonised him in the past. Friendship and love can conquer all.

Banjo and Ruby Red is a lovely book for sharing with preschoolers and lower primary school children, and a must have for primary school libraries!

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

Button Photo Frame

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The photo frame.

The photo frame.

Last week I picked up a cheap wooden photo frame from the local second hand shop. It was very plain, but in good condition. A jazzed it up for me using a selection of buttons from our button jar.

A spread all the buttons out on the table so that she could select the ones she wanted to use. In order to stick to the frame, the buttons needed to have a flat back. Then she added some glue and started sticking buttons all around the frame.

Gluing on buttons.

Gluing on buttons.

Once it was dry we put a photo of the kids with their great grandmother into the frame, and it is sitting on our dining table.

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Letter Writing Organisation

The kids are getting into writing letters, the old fashioned snail mail way. They love to write letters and draw pictures to send to their friends and family members. A also really likes sticking the stamps onto the envelope. They are always so excited when a letter arrives for them too!

Paperwork trays with matching pen holder.

Paperwork trays with matching pen holder.

I bought each of them some letter writing packs, with envelopes, paper and stickers. Over time though, we have ended up with some odd envelopes and paper, stored in various places about the house. I thought it was time to bring all of our letter writing supplies together and store them in a more organised and neat fashion. I was trying to devise a way that I could make a holder for our stationery, when I came across some paperwork trays at a friend’s garage sale. I knew these would be just perfect for our writing supplies.

With the kids’ help, we located as much of the writing supplies that we could and brought them together on the dining table. I took everything out of its packaging, to reduce the clutter. Some packets had a single envelope in them! We tried out all of the pens that had been stored with the writing paper, and threw out the ones that didn’t work.

Mix and match stationery supplies.

Mix and match stationery supplies.

As we had three trays to work with, we divided the supplies into three piles. We used one tray for envelopes, one for paper, greeting cards and note pads, and in the third we placed sticker sheets, address books and stamps. We stacked them on top of each other, and added the pen holder with some pens and pencils to the top tray. It is a lot neater, and far easier to find what we’re after.

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The trays.

Our new organised letter writing station.

Our new organised letter writing station.

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Cardboard Roll Sheep

A loves sheep, and spends a lot of time playing with her sheep figurines. She also likes to draw and make sheep. This sheep was made with a cardboard roll and some cotton balls.

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Matchstick legs.

Matchstick legs.

We added legs to the cardboard roll first. I made some small holes and A poked a coloured matchstick into each one. Then she got to gluing on the wool, which was lots of cotton balls. She added so many cotton balls that the sheep became a little heavy for its legs! Next time I think we might need to use popsticks or something else a little sturdier for legs. Either that, or we make the sheep less woolly.

Adding wool.

Adding wool.

For the face, we used a piece of white felt. A decorated it with a mouth and nose and some googly eyes. She used a little bit of the cotton wool to make two droopy ears, and glued them to the top of the the head. Then she used some craft glue to stick the face to the body, and she had her sheep.

The sheep's head.

The sheep’s head.

A insisted it was just a baby lamb, but I think it looked more like a sheep that hadn’t been shorn for about three years!

A very woolly sheep.

A very woolly sheep.

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Baby Bedtime by Mem Fox and Emma Quay

IMG_1479Baby Bedtime by Mem Fox and illustrated by Emma Quay, hardback picture book, published by the Penguin Group in 2013.

A mummy elephant gets her baby ready for bed with a beautiful bedtime lullaby. She tells her baby all the things she could do, such as nibbling on his ears, and gazing at him all night, but then the time for sleep has come.

Baby Bedtime is a lovely lullaby of love from a mother for her baby. The sentiment would be shared by many parents, and I definitely feel this way about my own children. The illustrations are just gorgeous, and gently rendered, making me feel relaxed and calm. Helpful for lulling little ones into sleep, this is perfect for reading to toddlers and preschoolers before bed. My second grader liked this story, but she thought she was a bit old for it.

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

Big Book of Aussie Dinosaurs by Kel Richards and Glen Singleton

IMG_1489Big Book of Aussie Dinosaurs by Kel Richards and illustrated by Glen Singleton, hardback non-fiction, 25 pages, published by Scholastic Australia in 2014.

Over the years we have read many dinosaur books, but I think this is the first one exclusively about Australian dinosaurs. It is a clear and simple introduction to this topic, suitable for preschoolers and lower primary school children. It contains facts about each dinosaur, with quirky illustrations on every page. My preschooler liked the carnivores running around with knives and forks. Her favourite dinosaur is Minmi, and she liked that a carnivore’s knife and fork were drawn crumpled from trying to penetrate her hard bony plates.

There is a glossary of Australian dinosaurs at the back of the book with a picture, the full name, phonetic pronunciation and the meaning of the dinosaur’s name. We tried saying all of the names aloud, some of them were quite difficult!

Prefect for all small dinosaur lovers, Big Book of Aussie Dinosaurs deserves a place in any dinosaur book collection!

 

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Filed under Book Review, Dinosaurs