Book Reviews

You might be noticing that my blog looks a little different….it only took six hours to get it right! It was a learning curve though!

Why book reviews? I am always on the look out for good, tried and tested books to use in the classroom and sometimes they are difficult to find. There are so many reviews out there by so many people…and sometimes it is just overwhelming! Having written that, you need to keep in mind that these are my opinions and are based on my own experiences – what works for me might not always work for you!

Here’s to having some fun though – I would welcome your comments about whether you agree with my review or perhaps have a different recommendation.



The World Around Us the past two years I have been a big fan of the Postcrossing site. It is free to join and you send postcards to random people in the world and likewise receive postcards from other random people. For the cost of a postcard and a stamp I found this to be a very rewarding activity for a couple of reasons.

1. It got my students to write (especially reluctant ones) and to edit before they wrote on the actual card.
2. The students had to cooperate to write the postcard in small groups – boy/girl groups on average worked better together than same-gender groups.
3. It was a responsibility that all students wanted to do – after all, who doesn’t love getting a piece of snail mail?
4. The students learned about people, geography and history of other places in the world.

It was interesting how much learning went on from questions raised about where the country was (I had a map permanently up in the classroom), the language, culture and history (especially when people such as Joan of Arc were mentioned).

Over the first year the students received about 40 postcards but in the second year it was over 70.

Here’s what I did (hopefully I don’t miss any steps)

  • I joined Postcrossing as a group and introduced the class. I have used the same account and just adapted the paragraph to suit each year as the more postcards you have sent the more you can do at the same time.
  • I bought a cheap mail box from the hardware store along with these letter: M A I L
  • Mum made me a custom weight to put inside the mail box to stop it flying off the shelf – I also put a couple of those clear sticky dots that stop sliding.
  • I bought a two draw mini container from the local cheap shop (not pictured as I can’t remember which box I put it in). In the top draw I placed “Airmail” stickers and in the bottom was a selection of postcards. I got most of the postcards in packs to save money but was also fortunate to be given a stack by a parent and the school also had their own available.
    I also got a cheap photo album (though be warned – postcards came in all sizes so I had to buy a packet of photo corners to put the larger/odd shape ones in)
  • I would take down the details of our assigned postcards and the students who had completed work to a high standard/shown improvement got first picks to choose their group and postcard recipient.
  • 1 student was assigned the responsibility for a week to check the mail box (though I didn’t start that for 2 weeks to allow postcards to start arriving.
  • When a postcard arrived we recorded the date it was received, the country and the name of the person (if it was written)

Here are some pictures:





Boandik Language: Animals

Boandik (Bunganditj) Language

Animals are a part of many of our daily lives. I have cats and frogs as pets but many others have dogs, chickens and even goats! This is a small word wall set that has the following animals: Animals: dog, puppy, cow, duck, geese, hen, sheep and turkey.

I hope to expand on this set at a later date to include more variety! At the moment though it really is best suited to a farm theme.

Here in Mount Gambier there is a wonderful farm call Echo Farm. It makes for a wonderful little excursion to interact with the animals but also get a taste of a time gone by. The farms charm is predominately from the Federation (that’s 1901 for those paying attention) until about 1960. This could be used as a follow-up activity to describe what animals have been seen.



K-2 Chart Sense: Book Review

K-2 Chart Sense: Common Sense Charts to Teach K-2 Informational Text and Literature

Title: K-2 Chart Sense

Author: Rozlyn Linder

ISBN: 9780988950542

Classification: Non-fiction
Themes: classroom, visual support.

What’s it about?

This is a book which is about how to introduce a concept or just kick-start discussions with
students in new ways. This book is great for giving that initial visual
to start off a discussion, unit of work or model a task.

The book itself is divided into the following sections:

1. Ask and answer questions

2. Main topics and messages

3. Characters and connections

4. Word play

5. Text features
6. Authors, illustrators, and narrators
7. Beyond text
8. Supporting reasons

9. Multiple texts

You might be thinking to yourself “How can I use it?” so let me give you an example. Section 3 looks at characters and one activity (page 82-83) is all about getting students to understand what a character is (sounds simple but I have had students mix up characters with settings before). I have posted the page below (apologies for the faded bit but many pages came like that)

Page 82-83 from K-2 Chart Sense

Below are the recommended books for this activity – personally I would use the David Shannon books as they are a hit with the students every time.

A Bad Case of Stripes [With Book]
David Gets in Trouble
Gingerbread Baby
Little Red Writing
Wilma Jean the Worry Machine

You get a brief rundown of how to introduce the activity and what to do.
Underneath it there are recommended texts and on the opposite page you
get the example – it couldn’t be easier to follow. Also, the book is extremely well organised which is handy for teachers in a rush.

The streaks over the pages are a nuisance.The copy I received had many, many pages it. Some I can work around but other pages I can’t.

My Recommendation
This is a fantastic book that I would especially recommend to teaching graduates. The written and visual information is easy to follow and implement in the classroom.

The only reason I have marked this as a “Borrow” and not “Buy” is the printing issues of streaks.

Boandik Language: Ocean Theme

Bunganditj Oceans Word Wall (Boandik language resource). Read about it on Miss Jenny's Classroom

Boandik / Bunganditj language resources with an ocean theme. Finding language resources can be hard work!

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