Ratburger by David Walliams

IMG_3921Ratburger by David Walliams and illustrated by Tony Ross, paperback novel, 317 pages, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in 2012.

In a council flat high in an old leaning building, lives Zoe, with her unemployed father and her horrible and lazy stepmother. She is quite alone in the world, with her Dad always at the pub, and her hateful stepmother eating crisps on the couch all day either ignoring her or screaming at her, but never once being nice. The school bully lives in the same block of flats too, and never misses an opportunity to give Zoe a hard time. Then comes a small rat into Zoe’s room and changes her life forever. Zoe’s rat is intelligent and Zoe begins training him to do tricks, whilst planning to become famous performers. Unfortunately the man that runs the burger van outside the school at lunchtime hears about her pet, and forms a nasty plan of his own.

Reminiscent of a Roald Dahl tale, possibly crossed with an Andy Griffiths story, Ratburger was funny, inspiring and touching, a tad silly, but most of all it was entertaining. Filled with plenty of gross stuff, such as disgusting grown-ups, nose picking, foul food, spitting, rats and of course ratburgers, this book appealed to my third grader and her friends. At the moment they all seem to be obsessed with bodily functions and smells… even just the names for different body parts and functions can have them in hysterics! My daughter also liked that many of the grownups in the story were depicted as being a little evil and a lot eccentric. Even Raj, the shopkeeper, had his oddball moments, including re-selling lollies Zoe had sucked, or chocolate bars less one bite. This view of adults satisfied my daughter’s perception that adults are just as weird as kids deep down, normally they just hide it better!

Ratburger was interspersed with black and white illustrations by the wonderful Tony Ross, author/illustrator of the Little Princess picture book series (very much loved in our house!). These illustrations caused much giggling alongside the story, adding further interest to an already engaging plot.

Ratburger was our first taste of David Walliams as an author (I’d already been laughing at him for years as a comedian, but my kids don’t know that!), and it has not been the last. My third grader begged for more of his books while barely laying this down after reading it for the first time. I love a book that can make my kids laugh, so as soon as I could, I bought a few more of his books, and they have been quickly devoured. If you’re looking for something that’s sure to make your middle to upper primary school child laugh themselves silly, try Ratburger, and wait for the guffaws!

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Butterfly Card

IMG_3849A simple card that the kids can make quickly and easily.

Tissue paper set of wings.

Tissue paper set of wings.

We started with a plain red card. A chose a couple of tissue paper circles to use for her butterfly wings, which were pink and orange. Each circle was scrunched into the centre to form a bow shape. Rectangles or squares of tissue paper would have made good wings too. I helped A to glue the scrunched up piece of the wings onto the front of the card, then we left it to dry.

Drying butterfly wings.

Drying butterfly wings.

A drew the bodies and antennae of her butterflies on once the wings were dry. She used a heavy black marker for this. She also did some drawings inside the card using metallic markers and wrote her birthday message.

 

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Filed under Animals, Craft, Creepy Crawlies

Finger Painting

IMG_3905

Finger painting palette.

Finger painting palette.

In order to make finger painting available for Baby T, I tried making some home-made edible paint. It probably wouldn’t taste very nice, but I just wanted something that wouldn’t hurt him if he put it in his mouth! So I mixed up a runny mixture of cornflour, water and food colouring, making it thick enough to feel like paint but thin enough to spread. It’s just a runny version of the slime we like to have sensory and messy play with.

Dipping her fingers.

Dipping her fingers.

Drizzling paint onto paper.

Drizzling paint onto paper.

Finger painting.

Finger painting.

The kids had a good time spreading the paint around in the tubs, drizzling it to make patterns, and swirling it together. They squished their fingers through it, and then made some paper prints from it. The paper soaked up the coloured water from the cornflour, leaving pretty patterns on the paper. They also used it to paint directly onto paper.

Paint in the tub ready to use for prints.

Paint in the tub ready to use for prints.

Once they were finished, it all washes off with soap and water. This was an inexpensive, easy and fun activity for a lazy Saturday afternoon.

A print.

A print.

L's finger painting of a red sunset.

L’s finger painting of a red sunset.

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Rainbow Sight Words

IMG_3872A has just started kindergarten. To help her with her reading we have been learning sight words. To help her learn and retain these words, we like to do activities with the words, the same way we learn our spelling words.

IMG_3860This week we tried making rainbow words with the sight words. First I wrote each word in large letters on some paper, and then A traced over the letters with different coloured gel pens and pencils. She particularly liked using her sparkly gel pens! Markers, crayons and chalk also work well. A continued tracing over and over the word with different colours to form rainbow letters.

This is a great activity for practicing the letter shapes, learning the words and learning the spelling. It is fun too! IMG_3867

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Filed under Fine Motor Skills, Rainbows, Spelling and Sight Word Fun

Simple Tissue Paper Card

The finished card.

The finished card.

For a long time the kids have preferred to make their own birthday cards for friends. This often involves drawing the birthday child on the card doing something they like or just holding birthday balloons, eating cake, etc. Now they want to make their cards more sophisticated on the outside, and still fill the centre with drawings.

Sticking tissue paper to the card.

Sticking tissue paper to the card.

Today L made a very simple card using coloured tissue paper circles layered on a plain white card. We used circles because that was what we had, but any shape could work. Next time I’d like to try ripping up small pieces of tissue paper and covering the card with them for a different effect.

Tissue paper drying on the card.

Tissue paper drying on the card.

 

 

L used a glue stick to apply glue to the card, and then carefully placed the tissue paper circles, overlapping them here and there to combine the colours, until the whole card was covered. Some of the circles overhung the card, and these we folded into the inside of the card and glued down. Alternatively, we could have carefully cut this extra tissue paper off at the edge of the card to leave the centre completely free for writing and pictures.

The outside of the card before folding.

The outside of the card.

How the inside of the card looked after folding the tissue paper in.

How the inside of the card looked after folding the tissue paper in.

Once the glue was dry, L wrote her birthday salutations inside, including some lovely drawings, and it was ready to go.

 

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What do Werewolves do when it’s not Halloween? by Heath McKenzie

IMG_3820What do Werewolves do when it’s not Halloween? by Heath McKenzie, paperback picture book, published by Scholastic Australia in 2013.

Halloween comes but once a year, when all the spooky things emerge from the shadows, but what do they do with the time in between? Find out what the witches and vampires, ghosts and mummies get up to in their free time. And specifically what do the werewolves do when they are not scaring the wits out of everyday people?

A hauntingly funny book for primary school children, What do Werewolves do when it’s not Halloween? is another great story from Heath McKenzie. The rhyming text is amusing, and the illustrations divine. The thought of those mummies changing their bandages never fails to make me laugh, and my kindergartner loves to pore over the pictures finding all the little quirks, like the ghost playing guitar and the vampire rubber ducky. The ending is her favourite part, and she can recite the last few pages to me! Reading this book has been a good inspiration for both my kindergartner and my third grader to create some of their own funny halloween pictures, with what they think could be alternative activities for the spooky creatures. I love that reading this book has prompted them to be artistic and creative.

This book is enjoyable for adults as well, the zombie scene is my favourite, have a look at those library cards! A great read out loud book to share and laugh over. After reading What do Werewolves do when it’s not Halloween? and What does Santa do when it’s not Christmas?, I do so hope that Heath McKenzie will tell us what the Easter Bunny is up to next!

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Filed under Book Review, Monsters

Esau the Paw by Chris Gurney and John Bennett

IMG_3819Esau the Paw by Chris Gurney and illustrated by John Bennett, paperback picture book, published by Scholastic New Zealand Limited in 2014.

Esau the Paw is a very fluffy cat, and very proud of his full fur coat. He also likes to explore the great outdoors, rolling through mud, climbing trees and squeezing under bushes. Unfortunately all that outdoor fun leads to many tangles and knots that just can’t be brushed out. A quick trip to the vet and Esau finds himself with rather less fur, and is highly embarrassed by it. Will it ever grow back?

Humourous rhyming text, an engaging story and charming illustrations makes Esau the Paw a very entertaining book. Perfect for reading aloud, Esau has delighted my kindergartner and my third grader equally. I am also quite taken with him. My grandmother’s elderly cat had to be shaved for the same reason, and the pictures of Esau match the reality perfectly. There is something innately amusing about a cat that only has a furry head with a fluffy pom pom on the end of their tail! Esau’s attempts to regrow his fur are also highly amusing, and I feel for him as his friends show off their own thick coats. Poor Esau!

Esau the Paw is quickly becoming a favourite in our home. We will be searching for more books by this wonderful Kiwi author in the future.

 

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Where Does Thursday Go? by Janeen Brian and Stephen Michael King

IMG_3826Where Does Thursday Go? by Janeen Brian and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, paperback picture book, published by Margaret Hamilton Books in 2001.

What a good question! Just where does Thursday go before Friday arrives? Friends Splodge and Humbug go exploring under the stars on Thursday night to see if they can find out.

With its distinctive and gentle illustrations and a unique story, this beautiful tale celebrates the curiosity of children. My children ask what seems like thousands of questions every day, and I don’t always know the answers, but that never deters them! So Where Does Thursday Go? appealed to their curious minds, and satisfied their love of reading. This is a nice book to share, and we enjoyed talking about what we thought Thursday would look like, and whether it would look different to the other days of the week.

Where Does Thursday Go? is most suitable for preschoolers and  children in lower primary school, but is loved by all of my children.

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Lulu Bell and the Birthday Unicorn by Belinda Murrell and Serena Geddes

IMG_3813Lulu Bell and the Birthday Unicorn by Belinda Murrell and illustrated by Serena Geddes, paperback chapter book, 86 pages, published by Random House Australia in 2013.

Meet Lulu Bell, a great big sister to Rosie and Gus, best friend to Molly and daughter of the local vet. During the preparations for Rosie’s mermaid themed birthday party, their Dad is called out to capture an escaped pony before it can get hurt. Until its owners can be found, the pony is placed in Lulu’s backyard, where the party is soon to be held. Unfortunately the pony gets up to some mischief, upsetting Rosie. Luckily Lulu has an idea that will help to make Rosie’s party the best ever.

A simple story of family, friends and fun, this chapter book captivated my kindergartner. She enjoyed the storyline, and identified with the family, which were very realistic. She liked the way Gus spoke, and called himself “Bug Boy” and the way that Rosie and Lulu interacted as sisters. The idea of a mermaid party was quite appealing to her also!

For self reading, Lulu Bell and the Birthday Unicorn, would suit a slightly more confident reader than one just starting chapter books. While the chapters were reasonably short, and the black and white illustrations frequent, there is more depth to this story than is usually seen in a first chapter book. The language was very suitable for lower primary school children, and the story easy enough to follow. I read this one to my kindergartner as she’s not yet onto chapter books, and she has already asked for more Lulu Bell!

 

 

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Slime

Packets of cornflour.

Packets of cornflour.

This is the easiest way to make slime, and requires only cornflour and water. I usually add some food colouring to the mix too, for a bit of extra fun. Green is our favourite slime colour. I once made it red, and it stained everything it touched, including our skin, so no more red slime for us!

I used a kilogram of cornflour in each tub, and roughly the equivalent in water. I normally just add water while mixing until I get to a consistency that I like. Less water makes it firmer, more water makes it runnier. I tend to lean towards firmer to start, as inevitably, the kids want to add water to the mix at some point while playing with it. The food colouring can be added to the water as you mix it in, or to the already mixed slime (it’s easier to do it while mixing in the water).

The first touch.

The first touch.

Getting our hands slimy.

Getting our hands slimy.

Past experience told me to get the kids into swimmers and take this activity outside. It is very messy. Afterwards I can hose the kids down, hose out the tubs and hose the mess from the grass too. Luckily it was really hot so we enjoyed playing with the hose once we were finished with the slime.

Letting her hands sink into the slime.

Letting her hands sink into the slime.

Oozing slime.

Oozing slime.

 

Previously we have used various plastic animals, cups, scoops, spoons, tongs and funnels with the slime, but the kids have just as much fun without any extra play items. It is a fascinating substance that keeps the kids entertained for ages. It is lots of fun to scoop up in our hands, squish it between our fingers, and let it ooze back into the tub. We talked about its liquid and solid properties and looked at ways of changing the pressure on the slime to cause it to solidify or to liquify. The kids tried pressing it quickly or letting their hands slide into it. And of course, eventually one of them stood in it, and then sat in it. Baby T was particularly pleased with the way it squelched up between his toes.

Baby T dropping slime on L's head.

Baby T dropping slime on L’s head.

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Filed under Investigations, Messy Play, Sensory Play