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'If students can't learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn' (Ignacio Estrada, via Tomlinson)

Archive for the ‘Fun stuff’ Category

Book review: Look and See, by Shane Morgan

Posted by Lisa Hill on August 5, 2014

As a librarian, it often falls to me to catalogue books for beginner readers, and it is in this genre that the ingenuity of Australian authors and illustrators never ceases to amaze me.  Working with a very limited vocabulary and designing the book so that illustrations provide context clues to support the reader, time and again these incredibly creative people manage to come up with something different.

This cute and quirky book by Shane Morgan is a good example.  At 24 x 18cm, Look and See, meet your favourite Australian animals is a bit bigger in size than most books of its type, but it follows the usual design rules: short easy-to-read sentences on one side of the page, and a picture on the other.

What makes it a bit different is the humour.  The sentences are rhyming pairs, and the first sentence introduces the animal, while the sentence on the ensuing page shows the animal getting the better of the human.

Look at the emu, running so fast.
See the emu, he caught me at last.

The picture that accompanies the second sentence shows the emu holding the human upside down by his undies – ouch!

The animals are not just the ones you’d expect, there’s also a lizard and a turtle, and all of them have very cheeky faces.  (My favourite is the frill-necked lizard with a great big cheesy grin).

Shane Morgan is a descendant of the Yorta Yorta people of Victoria.  He lives in Shepparton and studied the Advanced Certificate of Koorie Arts and Design at Goulburn Valley Community College, so I am hoping that he will go on to create more gorgeous books like this one.  I haven’t come across too many other children’s books by indigenous people from Victoria and would like to see more of them.

PS I read it to Year 1 and 2 classes today, and they loved it.  Interestingly, they picked up on the fact that it was created by an indigenous author from the double-page illustration (before the story starts) because they recognised the distinctive style of indigenous patterning and colours.  I was rather pleased by this: it shows that our students’ exposure to indigenous literature is making them so familiar with it that they can identify it without being told, even when they are only seven and eight years old.  I took the opportunity to show them on our indigenous map of Australia (always on display in the library) where the Yorta Yorta people come from, and they were excited to know that they were Victorian Aborigines.   So now I’m even more keen to add to our collection with more indigenous stories from Victoria!  I just have to find them…


Fishpond: Look and See: Meet your favourite Australian animals
Or direct from Magabala Books

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Authors & Illustrators, Book Reviews, Fun stuff, Indigenous Teaching Resources, School Library stuff | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Book review: Look and See, by Shane Morgan

Book review: Dance Like a Pirate, by Stephanie Owen Reeder

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 25, 2013

Dance Like a PirateThe blurb for this new lift-the-flap book Dance Like a Pirate is says it’s the perfect way to encourage kids to get active and to teach them body parts, but more than that, I think it’s a wonderful stimulus for imaginative play.

Each page has its own theme for dressing up.  The children can be fantasy characters like witches and wizards, fairies, mermaids and mermen or dragons; they can be  dancers, firemen, rock stars, or sailors; and they can be pirates, superheroes, royalty, clowns, or rabbits.   The brightly coloured pictures of children in costume is accompanied by verses in rhyming couplets with a strong, bouncing rhythm, perfect for children to join in:

Let’s leap like a dancer in tutu and tights,
Soaring across the stage like a bird in flight
So stretch your ankles and flex your calves,
Raise your hands and aim for the stars.

Glide and pirouette, slide and twirl,
Head held high, both arms curled.
Twist around and around like a top.
Do you feel dizzy when you stop?

Up, up and away! Let’s leap!
(underneath the flap) How high can you fly?

The body parts vocabulary is highlighted in bright colours, and at the back of the book there are labelled diagrams of a boy and a girl. (But they’ve omitted the label for calves!) No, they haven’t, but it’s printed in orange which makes it a little bit hard to see, see the author’s clarification below.  Sorry, Stephanie!

There are also, at the back of the book, small reproductions of some of the photos and drawings that Inspired the illustrator’s images.  The hopping rabbits, for example, draw on a photo of a mincing male dancer from the Monte Carlo Russian Ballet. Although I suspect that the inclusion of these images might ‘go over the heads’ of the target audience for this book, as one who is interested in art but has no skill at all in creating it, I found it fascinating, to see how the movements of the adult dancers in these images have been transformed.

I think prep Foundation and kindergarten teachers will love this book.  A few props in the dress-up box, and the children will have a great time!

Author and illustrator: Stephanie Owen Reeder
Title: Dance Like a Pirate
Publisher: NLA (National Library of Australia), 2013
ISBN: 9780642277794
Source: Review copy courtesy of the NLA


Fishpond:  Dance Like a Pirate
Book Depository: Dance Like a Pirate
Or direct from the NLA

Posted in Book Reviews, Fun stuff, Learning and teaching, Poetry, Recommended books, School Library stuff | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Book review: new series of chant and rhyme books from Peter Durkin and Peter Viska

Posted by Lisa Hill on April 2, 2013

Peter Viska chant and rhyme books

You know how it is: it happens to all of us sometimes.  I was just back at work after a week off with a crook back and still feeling rather fragile, and of course I didn’t have a work program ready for my first classes.   I needed to prepare something fast!

I can’t tell you how grateful I was to Scott Eathorne from Quikmark Media for sending me this new collection of chant and rhyme books by the inimitable Peter Viska and Peter Durkin (much-loved by children everywhere for their naughty collection –  Far Out, Brussel Sprout; All Right Vegemite and others).

There are four books in the new series and Scott had sent me two sets, so I had enough books for 4 tables of 4-6 children.  I told them that I wasn’t going to read them a story this week; I needed them to help me write a review of these new books.  I showed them where the poetry shelves were in the library so that they could find the books next time, and I read them a few samples from each of the books.  Of course they were delighted!

I gave the children the books and some paper to write and draw on, and then a hush descended on the room, rising and falling with the murmur of children reading and laughing and sharing with each other.  They loved these books, and there was a real sigh of disappointment at the end of the library lesson when we had to pack up.

Many thanks to Areesh, Dania, Emma, Gavin, Seth, Sina, Taonga, Amar, Ameer, Daniel, Justin and Nadia for letting me share their work with readers of LisaHillSchoolStuff.

This is the publicity blurb that came with the books, but I think the children’s work in the slideshow below it speaks for itself.

New Chant & Rhyme picture book series from best-selling illustrator Peter Viska

Peter Viska’s understanding of children has rewarded him with a lifetime of publishing and TV success. His Far Out, Brussel Sprout! series has been printed over 40 times by three publishers in Australia and have sold in excess of a million copies. Now Peter is set to release a brand new series of four children’s picture books through Alicat Publishing that are packed with fun, irreverence and good time cheekiness.

Titled In Your Eye Meat Pie!, Hang Loose Mother Goose!, Stay Cool April Fool! and Take A Stroll Sausage Roll!, these four books are packed with colourful chants and rhymes and matching outrageous illustrations. Readers learn what really happened to Mary’s little lamb, where Little Jack Horner really stuck his thumb – and just exactly what Old Mother Hubbard found in her cupboard! A fun read for children of all ages! Available from all good book stores at $7.95 each or online at

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Posted in Authors & Illustrators, Book Reviews, Fun stuff, Poetry, Recommended books, School Library stuff | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Happy World Teachers’ Day

Posted by Lisa Hill on October 30, 2011

Apologies to all the teachers in Victorian Government schools who can’t see this at school because YouTube is blocked by the department’s NetNanny.


Posted in Fun stuff | Tagged: | Comments Off on Happy World Teachers’ Day

Best wishes for the festive season

Posted by Lisa Hill on December 17, 2009

I have been so busy at school this last few weeks that I have not had time to even think about blogging, so I’d just like to end the school year by wishing everyone a very happy Christmas and New Year. 

BTW the little wooden manger you see here was made for me by my father over 30 years ago, when my son was very small.   I love getting it out every Christmas because it reminds me of the things he made for my sisters and me  at Christmastime when I was little, including most memorably a little wooden zoo and a farm.  Whatever your beliefs at this time of the year, I hope Christmas brings you memories to treasure too.

And Santa, I’d like a million dollars, please, to invest for my school, so that we can buy a music teacher and an extra Reading Recovery teacher with the interest on the money!

Posted in Fun stuff | Comments Off on Best wishes for the festive season

YABBA 2009

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 11, 2009

I just whipped up these two word searches using the books in the YABBA shortlist. 

The first one is meant for Y3 & 4 and shouldn’t take the children long: this week’s lesson is going to be starting our bookmarks for the IASL Bookmark project and the word search is just an end-of-term fill in for fast finishers.



To see the shortlisted books and download other resources, visit the YABBA site.

Posted in Fun stuff | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

SLAV Bright Ideas

Posted by Lisa Hill on November 20, 2008

If you’re a teacher-librarian, a lover of books or anyone interested in Web 2.0 and the amazing resources it has to offer, then you really should subscribe to the SLAV Bright Ideas blog. It is through this blog, for instance, that I discovered the Google LitTrip site, and it is such fun! It’s the old literary journey idea, i.e. making a map of journeys taken by characters in a novel, updated for the 21st century, using Google Earth. If you haven’t already downloaded this to stickybeak at your neighbour’s backyard LOL, then you need to do that first before you can play with LitTrip.
Try it out with The Kite Runner. You’ll find it on the downloads page, and seeing the landscape that the characters travelled through will change the way you remember this book forever.

Posted in Fun stuff, Learning and teaching, School Library stuff | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »