Dragon Defenders author James Russell visits Seatoun

James Russell is the author of the Dragon Hunters trilogy of picture books and the first of a series of chapter books, The Dragon Defenders. We loved having James come into school and talk to the students about his books and how he came to be a writer.

The Dragon Hunters are Flynn and Paddy, brothers growing up on a faraway island with their parents in a basic but hardy life away from modern conveniences. They discover a colony of dragons and adopt one of them, naming him Elton and so begins this exciting adventure into the world of dragons. In the chapter book they are also brought into the modern world, often with amusing consequences as they encounter technology for the first time, but fraught with danger as the dragon colony comes under threat.

James’ sons Flynn and Paddy enjoyed their dad telling them stories about dragons and so he decided to turn his stories into books. James was inspired to be a writer after discovering the excitement of a great book reading The Power of One, and he in turn creates gripping storylines in order to build the excitement as you journey through each book. We are delighted that he is almost ready to publish the second book in this series and you can bet we will be among the first to have some copies in our library! Perhaps we will also find out yet another terrible sandwich combination not to try out! We do know however that he has introduced a strong female character, Briar and we can’t wait to find out how she gets involved.

The other unique quality of James’s books is the augmented reality that he has built into his illustrations. By downloading a free app and viewing the book through a tablet camera you can see the world of Flynn and Paddy really come to life, literally! Take a look at still images taken here in the library! One News did a feature on his books which you can see here. You can also find out more about AR at James’ website here.

James read some his books to the students and we felt very privileged to have him visit our school. Room 12 have already bagged the first copy of the chapter book to read in class but we have a full set of his books in the library ready to go. The Dragon Defenders is already the best selling book by a New Zealand author and I am sure all of his books will be enjoyed for years to come. Thank you James for such an awesome visit!

 

 

 

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Going on a Lion Hunt

Last week in the library we had some fun with our green screen. Most of us have read ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’, but this time we went on a lion hunt and used the green screen to make the story come alive!

Room 6 swish-swashed through the long grass, squelched through the swamp, splash-splashed through the lake and tiptoed through the cave.

Green screens seem to work by magic! Here is a website which talks about how green screens are used in television and film and tries to explain how they work. We use an app called Do Ink Green Screen to create our videos and pictures.

In Junior Enrichment we also had fun with the green screen. Here are a few photos.

 

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My favourite books ever for new readers

The beautiful characters of Houndsley with his “soft as a rose petal” voice and his best friend Catina face a few challenges in this lovely series of books now in the library. They show extreme tolerance, courage, friendship and kindness – Houndsley faces real disappointment when he doesn’t do as well as he expected in a cooking competition, Catina finally learns to swim, they both overcome sadness at not knowing when their birthdays are and a snow storm teaches them the gift of the quiet time.

“Yes,” Catina said. “First I will find something I like to do. Then I will do it and do it and do it until I am very good at it. And then I might be famous.”

“I know something you are good at already,” said Houndsley, “although you will never be famous for it.”

“What?”

“Being my friend.”

 

 

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Mr Eel needs your help!

This is our longfin eel or tuna and he is happiest living in the shadows of our lovely clear waters in New Zealand. What happens if our rivers are no longer clear because so much silt runs into them from the hills around them? Or what happens if river banks are slowly being trampled and there is no longer any shadow left for Mr Eel?

This is Oliver Vetter and he talked to our Year 5/6 team last week about something he is very passionate about – water! In his previous job as an oceanographer he has seen the damage that the interruption to the water cycle and the impact of humans has caused to not just New Zealand’s waterways but all over the world. Oliver represents an organisation called Sustainable  Coastlines and they are helping New Zealanders make our rivers and streams be beautiful again. Take a look at their website below.

Photo taken during the Travis Wetland Tree Planting. Thanks Sustainable Coastlines for letting us use this image.

Oliver gave us some friendly tips on how we could make a difference.

Plant some native trees – either at home or as part of a project. Miramar ecological restoration has some advice on finding the right plants for our environment. Native trees grow well, look good, give out lots of good oxygen and can even reverse some of the bad effects of our habitation – like the cabbage tree which actually sucks bad metals out from the ground to free up nice soil space for our lovely new trees.

Buy certified biogro – these are products that have been made with ingredients which have not had pesticides or herbicides sprayed on them and have therefore had little or no negative impact on our waterways. Look for this symbol:

Walk, scooter or bike to school – any reduction in the number of cars on the road is positive.

Oliver’s final and easiest 3 suggestions for anyone wanting to do their bit:

  1. Don’t ever use or buy the plastics that are forever being found in our stormwater drains  (heading for the sea) – plastic straws, plastic bags, bottles of shop-bought water.
  2. Pick up rubbish especially near the beach to stop it getting into the stomachs of poor sea creatures.
  3. Tell 3 people who don’t know about any of this – the more people that know, the bigger impact these little things can have.
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Celebrating 20 years of Harry Potter

On 26th June 1997, the first 500 copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone were released into the world. Since then, more than 450 million copies of Harry Potter books have been sold, translated into 79 languages.  Harry Potter and the many amazing characters that appear alongside are beloved by their fans young and old.

Did you know there are huge Fandoms for Harry Potter – great online places for fans to indulge themselves, find out more about the characters, be sorted into a house, try out new spells or read about the latest Wizarding news. Try one of them here:

Harry Potter books are a great choice for children to read for many reasons:

  • they are filled with a  rich word choice to build vocabulary
  • the writing builds an exciting plot so well that you just want to keep reading and reading
  • the stories offer superb life lessons, like accepting differences, acknowledging courage and loyalty, the power of friendships, people aren’t perfect
  • there are some fantastic female role models, like Hermione, Luna, Mrs Weasley
  • you enter a fantastical, magical world of adventure which ignites imagination

Enjoy Harry Potter, always.

 

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Actively saving our native species

This is Sacha Walters and as well as being Super Mum to our very own Elinor in Room 17, she is also a Senior Policy Advisor for the Department of Conservation, advising our government in how best to protect New Zealand’s natural resources and wildlife. Sacha came in today to talk to the Year 5/6 team because they have been studying this exact topic.

Sacha gave us some interesting background information about her role and how the Department of Conservation is looking after the whole country with quite limited resources. In terms of what we can do ourselves, here are some suggestions that we heard today:

  • Recycling – ensure we dispose of all of our waste in the right way. Some chemicals and paints that end up in our waterways can cause dreadful harm, so we should find out the right place for these to go. They don’t even go in the red bin. Try the Wellington City Council website for information.
  • Packaging choices – when you are at the supermarket, consider how much packaging is wrapped around the food that you are buying and if possible, choose the no or less packaging variety.
  • Community projects – get involved on a local level – in Seatoun we can make sure no waste ends up in the oceans and protect our local native species like the Little Blue Penguins. Seatoun School students provided a post for the KCC blog in their Take the Lead Challenge – read about it here.

    Here is also a link to the Miramar Ecological Restoration organization which can give some good advice. Take part in nationwide events – like the Garden Bird Survey taking place this month.
  • Watch our own pets – dogs and cats can cause havoc if we let them run loose at night time. Even a pet frog or fish could spread new diseases if let loose into our waterways.
  • Join Kiwi Conservation Club – this is the children’s arm of Forest and Bird, an environmental organisation whose 80,000 members provide the leg work to many projects such as monitoring, planting, weeding and general hard work. KCC itself holds activity meetings once a month where children learn about different aspects of conservation and this might include counting macro-invertebrates in our local waterways, counting Katipo Spiders, checking Possum Traps or simply identifying native ferns, trees, and birds. For only $24 per year you also receive a great magazine every 3 months called Wild Things. Check out how to become a member here.
  • Here is a great book we have just bought for the library which tells us about the pests in New Zealand that we can help to get rid of. We have quite a few books about native species and protecting them in the school library. You can search the library catalogue using the link at the top right of this blog.
  • Finally here are some great images, articles, video links and more resources on this topic compiled by the National Library
    Conservation Day poster

    Conservation Day poster, By Don Binney,New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu Taonga, Content partner: Ministry for Culture and Heritage

    For all of these links and more information, check out our Enviro Links Livebinder under Research Help – look for this lovely picture and click on it:

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Books that celebrate how unique and special we all are

We have shared a couple of books with our junior classes over the last week which have promoted discussions about empathy, difference, kindness and how unique and amazing we all are.

We’re all Wonders by RJ Palacio is the picture book version of one of our favourites Wonder, and in this book for younger readers we find out from Auggie how he feels to be seen as so different to everybody when he is actually just an ordinary boy.

“I know I can’t change the way I look but maybe, just maybe, people can change the way they see”.

Manukura the white kiwi by Joy Cowley is a brand new book we received this week in our free pack from the publishers Penguin. This tells the true story of a one of a kind white Kiwi born in the Pukaha sanctuary in the Wairarapa. You can find out about this by clicking here. Manukura is considered a taonga  (a blessing) by local iwi and her name means ‘of chiefly status’.

Here are a few books from our library which acknowledge difference. Can you think of any more?

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Power Reading at Book Night

There was certainly some power reading going on at Seatoun School last night when nearly 40 families squeezed into the library and read together for Book Night. Our great student helpers kept the milo flowing and overall our school group of readers was the biggest community group in New Zealand getting together to read.

If you click here you can go to the Book Night website and have a look at the map of New Zealand to see where people were joining in. You might need to zoom in on Wellington to find the individual photos of our school readers.

Some of our photos are here:

Thank you to all of the parents who took the time out of their evenings to support the fantastic reading culture we have at our school.

 

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Book Night Tuesday 23rd May – 15 minutes of reading for Everybody

On Tuesday night, children and adults all over New Zealand will be celebrating reading by registering their 15 minutes of book time with Book Night. People will take selfies and send them in and soon a map of New Zealand will light up with readers from every corner of our country. Every registration goes into a draw for book voucher prizes.

We will be joining in at Seatoun School – from 6.30 to 7.30pm, students can come along with their parents to the school library and either bring your own books to read or choose from our wonderful collection and read those. Once you are here you can register with the Book Night organisation. Bring your beanbags and cushions and we will provide Milo and biscuits. There will be a draw for spot prizes on the night. See you then!!

If you can’t come along you can still register your reading effort by going to this website on Tuesday night.

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Some recommended reads by great book reviewers

On our blog there are direct links to some book reviewers who spend a lot of time reading children’s books and telling us which ones are worth reading.

Look to the right of this post – you will see two that we subscribe to

Bob’s Books Blog and My Best Friends are Books

You can browse these blogs by clicking on a theme in the wordclouds and that will take you to a list of books that they have reviewed about a particular topic. I receive an email every time they review a book and they help me choose books to buy for our library. I have been sharing these books in the library this week, new books bought because they got such good reviews.

What not to do if you turn invisible by Ross Welford – Bob’s Books says it is one of the funniest and most interesting children’s novels he has read for some time and once you start you will not put it down:

The combination of an on-line purchase of a Chinese remedy and a sunbed cause Ethel to become invisible. She is however only invisible when naked. She panics of course and has various absurd situations that will crack you up.

Poor Ethel is dealing with bullies who find her acne a great source of humour, a new friend who everyone else dislikes (as did she until she got to know him) and a family mystery that makes her old old Great Gran call her Tiger Pussy! What?! A great book for around year 6-8.

Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart – another excellent book for years 6-8. Jonathan Grisby has been sent to Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys – not the best place to go and stay for a while as you can imagine. The place is full of young offenders and we don’t know why Jonathan has been sent there until much later in the book, but he is certainly very ashamed of himself and feels he deserves his place there. The adults who run it are cruel and gruesome and I have to say I found the first few chapters to be a quite uncomfortable read. An odd event causes the boys to take control of the island and things go from bad to worse for Jonathan. Here’s what My Best Friends are Books says about it:

Scar Island is like Holes and Lord of the Flies rolled in to one. It is one of those books you just don’t want to put down. When you’re not reading it you’re wondering what will happen next. It’s an adventure story and a survival story with a dash of darkness.  It’s an immersive story too because you can feel and smell the damp, cold fortress, hear the click of the rats scurrying paws and feel the fear and dread of these boys who are trapped.

 

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