Category Archives: Under the Sea

Waneta Walrus and her Blue Tutu by Jean Ingellis

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wanetacoverWaneta Walrus and her Blue Tutu by Jean Ingellis, e-book, 27 pages, published by Jean and Vic Publishing in 2015.

Waneta is a Walrus with only one tusk. She is very self conscious about this, and the other walruses tease her. When a small walrus pup finds himself in trouble with a shark in the water, Waneta doesn’t hesitate to go to his aid. Can she beat the shark and save the pup?

The text was bold and clear, and the story was easy to follow. Overall I liked the book. The story itself was told through rhyming language, which  is great to read aloud. Waneta was very brave to take on a shark. I’ve never really thought of walruses as being graceful creatures, so the idea of them moving like a ballerina was a little funny too.

Each page had a simple and bold illustration, which reminded me of making drawings with the paint program on my computer when I was a child. Made me a bit nostalgic actually. These simple illustrations are good for young children. I liked the picture of the walruses sleeping on the beach best.

While the story states that teasing others is wrong, this still had a ring of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to it. The other walruses only liked Waneta after she did something that helped them. It’s good that they stopped bullying her, but it shouldn’t take an act of bravery for the others to be nice to her. I don’t want my kids to learn that they have to do something extraordinary or prove themselves to have others treat them nicely.

We also learn that Waneta has two goals that she is trying to achieve, and it’s great to have goals in life. However, one of her goals is to have two tusks. I didn’t like this goal as it suggested that Waneta wasn’t fine just the way she was. This idea of poor body image was compounded by her embarrassment of the missing tusk, where she covered the gap with her flipper to prevent others seeing it. Also, having a missing tusk is something that Waneta can’t change, so she was always going to fail in her goal. It would have been better to make the goal something that was actually achievable, even if in the end she didn’t manage to do it.

Waneta Walrus and her Blue Tutu is most suitable for lower primary school children. Older reluctant readers may also find this a good read. There are more books coming in this series soon.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

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Pin the Tentacle on the Octopus

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We made our own version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey for our beach themed party; Pin the Tentacle on the Octopus!

Using a piece of scrap cardboard, I painted an octopus with only seven tentacles. I gave her a lovely big smile, and A thought she should have a little crown too. We used some glittery paint for extra effect.

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Streamer tentacles.

While the octopus was drying we cut some lengths of crepe paper streamers up in various colours to use as the missing tentacle. Each child could choose one, and using a piece of blu-tack on the back of the streamer, stick it to the octopus picture during the game.

I’m sure most of you have played a version of this game at some point, but if not, it is played like this; each child stands in front of the picture, is then blind-folded and spun around gently three times before trying to stick or pin the tail/tentacle onto the picture. The child that gets their tentacle closest to where it’s meant to be is the winner. A scarf tied around the child’s eyes can suffice for a blindfold.

Example of where to place the tentacle.

Example of where to place the tentacle.

This is a fun game for younger children and can be done with as many players as there are available tentacles (or tails).

 

Island Cupcake Tower

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IMG_5701Recently we held a birthday party with a beach theme. As the centrepiece of the food table, I made cupcakes to place on my cupcake stand. My stand has three levels for holding cupcakes, plus a place for one right at the top. I used this design to make the cupcake stand into an island cupcake tower.

Freshly baked cupcakes.

Freshly baked cupcakes.

First, we baked the cupcakes using a basic butter cake mix. A helped me set out the paper cases (she chose ones with Disney Fairies on them!), and spoon the mixture into the cases. We only filled each one about half way so that they didn’t rise too much.

Once the cupcakes were completely cool, A and I divided the cupcakes into piles for each level on the stand. The lowest level held the most cupcakes, and was to represent the water of our island. A helped me mix up the butter (vienna) cream to ice them. I like to use a simple recipe for butter cream that I found on Taste.com. We added some blue food colouring to the butter cream until it was the blue we wanted, and then we generously covered the cupcakes with it. We used the flat edge of a knife to create the “waves” by tapping the top of each iced cupcake, pulling some of the butter cream up in peaks.

A sea cupcake.

A sea cupcake.

Adding coconut to the top of the cupcake.

Adding coconut to the top of the cupcake.

We made a second batch of butter cream, this time colouring it yellow for our layer of sand cupcakes. We had previously coloured coconut to use as the sand on these cupcakes. We covered each cupcake with butter cream, and then dipped them into the yellow coconut until the tops were completely covered. I made the butter cream thick on these cupcakes to help hold the plastic toy palm trees we then placed on each one.

Beach cupcake.

Beach cupcake.

Grassy cupcake.

Grassy cupcake.

The final layer of cupcakes was to be the heart of the island, with green butter cream and green coconut for the grass. Again, we applied the butter cream generously to help secure the plastic ferns we added for foliage. These cupcakes were the pinnacle of the cupcake stand. The cupcake on the very top was the centre of the island, which sloped down to the sea at the bottom. I think it looked quite effective on the table!

Island cupcakes.

Island cupcakes.

Bone Collection: Animals by Rob Colson

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IMG_4093Bone Collection: Animals by Rob Colson and illustrated by Sandra Doyle, Elizabeth Gray and Steve Kirk, paperback non-fiction, published by Scholastic Australia in 2013.

Explore the animal world through their skeletons. Bone Collection: Animals covers a range of animals from fish and frogs to apes and humans. First it looks at the skeleton of a specific animal, then follows this with facts about similar animals. At the end of the book, there was a double page with a lion’s skeleton separated with the major bones named. There were also some general bone facts, and a glossary to help with some of the terms found within the text that may be unknown to a young reader.

A combination of illustrations, photos and diagrams alongside fascinating facts about a wide variety of creatures make this an excellent non-fiction text for primary school students. The illustrations of the skeletons throughout this book are exquisitely detailed. The depth of information is good for this age group, whilst also being interesting and presented in an appealing style.

My third grader read this book to me, and we both learnt quite a few things! She just wanted to keep reading until we were finished, as she was finding it so entertaining and enlightening. We liked that each page had a little diagram showing the relative size of the creature to an adult human. Her favourite animal was the three-toed sloth with its long arms and claws, while I found the blue whale’s humungous jaw bones very interesting.

Wild Discoveries Wacky New Animals by Heather L. Montgomery

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IMG_3949Wild Discoveries Wacky New Animals by Heather L. Montgomery, paperback non-fiction, published by Scholastic Inc. in 2013.

There are still millions of undiscovered species all over the world. This book showcases just a few of the most interesting creatures discovered recently, including a leech with large teeth, a frog with translucent skin and green bones, a blue earthworm, a tiny seahorse and a stick insect as long as your arm!

Wild Discoveries Wacky New Animals is an interesting read. Each page contains plenty of facts about each creature, including its scientific name, size, role and where it was discovered. There are also plenty of colour photographs depicting the animals and their various traits. There is a glossary of terms at the back of the book and a small section on kids discovering new animals.

An enticing non-fiction book for primary school children, Wild Discoveries Wacky New Animals would appeal to nature and animal lovers along with those interested in more unusual (or gross) fare. I cannot un-see the “snot flower” or the Atewa Hooded Spider, but I can refocus on the cute little Siau Island Tarsier! My third grader found this book fascinating, and is now looking into more wacky and strange animals.

Freaky Phobias by Joel Levy

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IMG_2519Freaky Phobias by Joel Levy, paperback non-fiction, 80 pages, published by Scholastic Australia in 2011.

This book is a fascinating insight into a range of phobias. It covers the most common ones, such as arachnophobia and claustrophobia, alongside some extremely unusual phobias. I never knew there was a word for the fear of otters or knees or kissing, but there is! And there are many other phobias that I had never considered, but discovered in Freaky Phobias.

Freaky Phobias is an informative and interesting book for primary aged children. I learnt quite a lot whilst reading Freaky Phobias, as did my second grader. It had a good depth of information for children, and plenty of fun facts to engage the reader. The photography depicted all of the terrors contained within the book with such clarity that my second grader wanted to skip some of the pages because she felt anxious.

Freaky Phobias contains an A-Z of Phobias, providing the names and descriptions of quite a few phobias. I think this glossary could have been enhanced by including the phonetic spelling of the names, as some of them are quite long and complicated words, which I had difficulty pronouncing.

This is quite a good non-fiction title for young learners (and big ones too!)

 

Shell Photo Frames

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L's frame.

L’s frame.

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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.

 

Fly Guy Presents Sharks by Tedd Arnold

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IMG_0513Fly Guy Presents Sharks by Tedd Arnold, paperback non-fiction reader, published by Scholastic Inc in 2013.

Fly Guy and Buzz head to the aquarium to learn about sharks in this informative reader. It contains plenty of photographs throughout the book, complementing the interesting factual text. And Fly Guy and Buzz are always there, leading the way to more knowledge on sharks.

Moving onto non-fiction titles can be a little scary as they often have longer and harder words, and are more complicated than their fictional counterparts. Using some well loved characters, such as Fly Guy and Buzz, is useful in piquing the interest of young readers, especially those that may be reluctant to try non-fiction. I was impressed with the simple and interesting layout and facts. There was enough factual information to sink your teeth into (sorry about that awful pun!) without it becoming overwhelming.

This book is aimed at lower primary school children as a reader, but I read it to my preschooler, and she really enjoyed it. She loves Fly Guy, so this book had appeal before we even opened it. My preschooler did learn some things about sharks, such as they breathe through gills and they don’t sleep, she was particularly impressed by the Great White Shark being able to smell blood from so far away. She told me she is glad she’s never met a shark! She also liked the comments that Buzz makes, and the picture of Fly Guy pretending to have shark teeth. Combining Fly Guy and such an engaging topic as sharks was a stroke of genius, and we look forward to reading more in the Fly Guy Presents series.

 

Jellyfish Picture

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Our pile of glitter and metallic glues.

Our pile of glitter and metallic glues.

We have a tub of glitter glue and metallic glue tubes that the kids use on all sorts of projects. I like using glitter glue over glitter as it is generally less messy (unless A leans in it and then spreads it all over the place…or dangles her hair in it), and it’s easier to place exactly where we want it. The downside is that the kids (especially A) put it on so thick it takes ages to dry, and we often need to leave our projects at least overnight to dry.

Drawing on her waves.

Drawing on her waves.

Today A used the glitter and metallic glues to draw a jellyfish picture. She started out painting fish, but they morphed into jellyfish. She also wanted to add an eel, but it grew tentacles and became a jellyfish too. She drew waves with some blue metallic glue, and sand with yellow glitter glue. There’s also some seaweed done in green metallic glue.

I like how glittery this picture is.

Drawing sand at the bottom of her picture.

Drawing sand at the bottom of her picture.

Making a jellyfish.

Making a jellyfish.

 

Paper Plate Aquarium

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Both L and A have been fascinated by the ocean and its inhabitants for a while now. They want to read books on ocean creatures, watch ocean documentaries, do sea creature craft, and watch The Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo over and over and over…  They also want some pet fish, but we just don’t have a good place where we could keep a fish tank at the moment, not with Baby T learning to climb on everything and pull things over. We improvised instead, and made some little aquariums using paper plates to hang in their rooms.

L's aquarium.

L’s aquarium.

Painting the plate blue.

Painting the plate blue.

First, the kids painted one of the plates blue to represent the water in their aquariums. This was fairly quick, but of course, we had to wait until they were dry. While that happened, the kids started colouring in their sea creatures with markers. L only coloured in a few of her creatures, as she only wanted to make one aquarium, but as A wanted to make two, she coloured all of hers in. I found the undersea creatures to colour in on the Crayola site. There are lots of colouring pages available to print there.

Colouring in.

Colouring in.

L cutting out her fish.

L cutting out her fish.

L only needed a little bit of help cutting her sea creatures out, but A asked me to do hers after she almost cut off the fish’s head. We used crepe paper to make sea weed, I just cut a few different green shades and some brown into strips. The kids glued some seaweed on, and then added their sea creatures. They both added some more strips of seaweed after this, making some of the animals appear to be hiding in the sea weed. This was their idea, and I love it.

Adding sea weed.

Adding sea weed.

Gluing on sea creatures.

Gluing on sea creatures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made the lids for the aquariums using a second paper plate. I cut the centre out, leaving just the ridged bit around the edge. Then I taped some plastic cling wrap over the plate, creating a clear cover for the aquarium. We stuck the two paper plates together at the edges using tape, added some string to the top of each aquarium and hung them up.

A's aquariums.

A’s aquariums.