Wild Things soft toys

Wild Things soft toys

Monday, 10 March 2014

A week of firsts...

This week the Year 6/7 students at my school took part in an inaugural Leadership day of activities where they were challenged to identify the leader within, and work collaboratively to identify the character traits that identify a leader. There were games where the aim could only be achieved successfully when working together as a team.

The aim was to beat the clock, include all players and begin again if a mistake occurred. There was lots of laughter and fun, along with frustration for the most competitive of the kids. However, natural leaders emerged, making suggestions to refine approaches to ensure improvement and success.

The feedback from the kids has been positive, they enjoyed taking part and some thoughtful feedback indicates that some deeper thinking has been provoked. As the leaders in our student community in terms of age, we are intent on building this view of themselves so that they can demonstrate our school values and positively contribute to our school community, which will hopefully impact on their citizenship in their futures. Across the school we are focussed on building the sense of belonging all students have with our school. In each classroom teachers spend time focussing on social skills. Our Counsellor has an extensive collection of fiction and skills programs for loan. 
Julia Cook is an American author who has written a series of books based around social skills. You can find some of her titles, along with others, at my Pinterest account on the Book titles I need to remember board.

 I am showcasing two books by Kathryn Otoshi. The first, One, deals with bullying, being a bystander, taking a stand for your own beliefs and inclusion. This is an example of subject matter and book design colliding exquisitely in a clever, witty, thoughtful story where soft water-colour blobs float in white space before turning into numbers as they realize their true value.  When I read the book in the first weeks of the new school year, and then re-visit this story around mid-year it has that magic quality that resonates with kids' hearts,  allowing empathetic discussion amongst the kids. It is sought after and I have particularly noticed by borrowing patterns that it fills a real need for 9 -10 year-olds. They come back again and again for it
The sequel to One is Zero.  
We meet the numbers again as they are watched with some envy by Zero, who has low self-esteem and feels empty inside. She tries to twist herself inside out to be more like them, finally realizing that just by being and valuing herself, she can magnify the worth of all the other numbers as they work together as a team. (This title could also be used as a basis for discussion on body image.)
Otoshi has received a string of awards for One. You can find other titles by the author at her website 
At this site you can hear Otoshi talking about her book and reading it:
Every child should have an opportunity to be exposed to Picture Books of this calibre. They are my go to gift books for young children.
Deceptively simple, these two titles are simply beautiful.

That was my second first for this week - showcasing books on my new blog.There's one more!

We are so excited in our Library because we have snails - enough for every child to have one to observe as part of a series of Science lessons. We have a bit of a theme happening around Living things, leading up to hatching chickens in the last two weeks of Term 1.

But there's more. This week we also received two caterpillars from the Nature Education Centre which are going to become delicate Monarch butterflies. 
They have pupated already, so we have two perfect green chrysalids decorated by the most amazing goldminiature-sized dots, suspended from milkweed branches.One little boy stood watching them, entranced for his whole lunch (half) hour.

Wikimedia commons
A call for swan plant in our newsletter was answered by one of our ever helpful parents who had the shrub growing in her garden. I now have pods which are filled with seeds, so will try growing some in my garden for future use. You may notice that we have two different types of milkweeds in our photos, both being siutable. The thicker leaf variety came with the original caterpillars, but I managed to find some growing in the wild about 10 kilometres from school and inside a nearby quarry. I was able to get some from there, and these yielded more caterpillars. 
Monarchs only lay their eggs on Milkweed plants.   If they don't have these to feed on the larvae will be deformed. I had quite a conversation with a particularly helpful, and obviously knowledgeable, person from the Botanic Gardens to help me identify the particular species name. He was described to me by the woman who answered my call as the "weed" expert, - that brought a smile to my lips.

Kids just resonate with animals, and there has been such excitement as they have examined the snails with magnifying glasses as we wear our Scientist hat in lessons.

Please click on image to enlarge.

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