Can we build a bridge for 21 elephants?

Rooms 4,5,6,7,8 and 9 have been learning a lot about bridges this term, and together we found out about how one of the most famous bridges in the world, the Brooklyn Bridge, was tested to prove to doubters that it was safe and sound. This book, 21 Elephants and still standing by April Jones Prince is based on the true story of how circus owner Barnum asked the New York City chiefs if he could walk his troop of elephants across the bridge. You can read about this fascinating story by clicking here.

There is also a good selection of facts about the Brooklyn Bridge by The History Channel, here.

Of course we had to see if we could use our new knowledge of bridge building along with some very simple materials to create a structure that would hold our elephants. Here are some of the results:

 

 

 

 

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Competition launched to celebrate Wonder film

This is the new edition of one of our library favourites Wonder, the story of a boy with facial differences who has been unable to attend school until 5th grade. Despite warm family backing, Auggie finds the going tough until he meets friends who offer genuine kindness and support.

We were very excited to hear that a film had been made of this story and will be released on November 17th. Click on the photo to go to the trailer.

To celebrate this we have a fantastic prize pack of a family ticket for 4 to see the new film at Roxy Cinema in Miramar plus a copy of the movie tie-in edition of the book.

This competition aims to recognise the kindness that we see happening in our school every day. We want people to nominate students who they see showing kindness, empathy, aroha, compassion and inclusion to their fellow Seatoun community members. Come to the library, take a post it note and write on it the name and class number of the person you are nominating, what act of kindness you have seen from them, and your name so that we know who has nominated them. The competition was launched today and already we have had plenty of people recognising the kindness they have seen.  By the time we draw a winner from these entries I hope the board is completely filled with the brightly coloured post it notes:

We are very grateful to the generosity of Roxy Cinema who loved our kindness themed competition so much that they donated a second family ticket! This means we can make two draws at Hui on the 17th November, ready for you to read the novel before the premiere of the movie at Roxy two weeks later.

Here is our finished wall:

Good luck everyone and remember to always Choose Kind.

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Tales of True Grit and Survival against the odds

WOULD

HAVE THE 

TO 

This is the question we can ask ourselves when reading some of the books on our survival display in the library.

Over the holidays I read Bear Gryll’s True Grit in which he tells the real life adventure stories of some truly gritty individuals.  Take 17 year old Juliane Koepcke who fell 10,000 feet from the sky out of a disintegrating aeroplane, only to find herself completely alone in the middle of a jungle. She was wearing a thin summer dress and one shoe – hardly the gear you would hope to be wearing if you were in this situation. Juliane used her basic survival knowledge to keep herself alive – this may or may not involve an open wound and some maggots, you will need to read it to find out!

Over the course of the book it is hard to believe that these people survived some of these situations and they all had to show incredible determination and a real will to survive.

Bear Grylls has also written fiction books for children, a series called Mission Survival, some of which we have in the library.

Jackie French, an Australian author, has written many, many books for children and adults. She herself has shown incredible grit and determination to succeed because she overcame the odds of being dyslexic to become a multi award winning best selling author. Imagine that! I love the letter she wrote to her fellow dyslexics which is on her website, some of it is here:

This letter is to someone who can change the world.
That person’s you.
I know the world can change. I’ve seen it done.
I wish I could say it will be easy. It won’t.

But I can promise that this is probably the worst it’s going to get. I can also promise that there are people who can teach you to read and write as easily as I now can. (I still can’t spell, or notice typos, but my computer can. It can’t write books though.)

The poem ends with

Keep at it. Because one day you’re going to soar.

You can read the whole poem here, and have a look at the rest of her website to find out more about her life, coping with dyslexia, see all of her books and the hundreds of awards she has won for them.

Back to the point of this post which is to talk about grit and survival. Johannes in Goodbye Mr Hitler must show enormous grit when he finds himself in a concentration camp towards the end of World War Two. Many millions of even the toughest people could not be saved during this time and Johannes was truly one of the lucky ones in his camp to be able to survive his time there. Once the camp was liberated, or freed by the Americans at the end of the war, he still needed to stay alive, find some kind of family to belong to, and make his way like many others to a better life in Australia.

There is some quite raw description of some of the treatment shown to Johannes and the other children in the camp which is why this book is in our STAR book section for older readers in years 6-8. In this book we also catch up with Heidi, the star of one of Jackie French’s other wartime books, Hitler’s Daughter, and Georg from Pennies for Hitler.

Come and have a look at our display in the library and find a tale of survival.

 

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Bee Aware Month for Enviro Team

Imagine a world without strawberries, kiwifruit, apples, nuts, coffee, chocolate or even denim jeans. These are all foods and products pollinated by honey bees. Bees around the world and especially in New Zealand cannot survive without our help, and in turn we wouldn’t survive without them. The bee population in New Zealand contributes about $5 billion to our economy annually and supports about one third of everything we eat!

This year to help raise awareness our Enviro Team have been getting creative and designing an image using digital software to to shine a spotlight on the role bees play as pollinators of our food and other products we consume.

We got into a few teams and using the ipads and the sketchbook app we have created the following posters which have been entered into a competition and have been put up around the school. We hope you like them!

 Lulu, Bonnie May and Gracie:

Our poster is all about how important bees are to humans and why we need to keep them safe. Without bees we wouldn’t have things like honey, denim jeans and lots more. We used sketchbook and had lots of fun playing around with all the tools to get our poster how we wanted it.

 Dimitri and Solomon:

Our poster is all about how bees are important to people all around the world. Without bees we wouldn’t be able to have lots of things like chocolate, fruits, denim jeans and most of all honey. Solomon and I used sketchbook to make the bee awareness poster.

Josie, Maria & Talesha:

Our poster represents the many things that bees pollinate that we would be without if we did not have bees. Many of the drawings on our poster are things that bees pollinate, including denim jeans!

Maria, Talesha and I used a tool called sketchbook on the ipad to create our bee awareness poster.

Here’s what can we do to help our precious New Zealand bees survive:

  • Grow plants in your garden that attract bees. – Bees love plants with ample amounts of pollen and nectar such as borage, lavender, rosemary, calendula and forget-me-not.
  • Don’t mow your lawn too often, leave clover and dandelion in the lawn for a while for bees to forage on.
  • Eat more organic food to encourage producers to limit pesticides on crops.
  • If you come across a swarm of bees please don’t call the exterminators but instead call your local beekeeping club.  
  • Find out more about the honey you are eating and make sure it is from beekeepers who care about their bee’s health and not just about production.
  • Spread the word by letting people know about how important bees are
  • Garden organically or use bee friendly sprays and use them at dusk when the bees are back in their hives.
  • Create a shallow pond in your garden where bees can land on the edges to collect water

National Geographic for Kids has some interesting facts about bees on their website – have a look here.

Another interesting fact about bees is that they can see ultraviolet light, and what they see when they look at flowers is quite different to what we see. Scientists have studied this in order to optimise pollination for worldwide produce – “every third bite that you consume at the dinner table is the result of insect pollinators’ work” – the way growers organise their greenhouses can be based on which plants they need the bees to spot first! On this flower below, the Creeping Zinnia, the spots that the bees see through their ultra-violet lens acts as a landing pad to direct them to where the nectar is. Have a look at the full article from the BBC here. If you want to try and see flowers the way bees do, you could get yourself a piece of blue cellophane (leftover from craft or gift-wrapping) and look through that. Certain flowers will appear brighter than others.

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The ancient and magnificent Baobab Tree

During Term 3 in the library the juniors have been reading a variety of books about Africa and we have created our own African Savannah for the children to decorate with some of the animals that live there. Some of their animals appear outside the library too.

Here are some of our artists from Rooms 5 and 9:

One of the most incredible trees in the world, the Baobab, also has a home on the African plains. We have shared a book about the Baobab, learning just how many living things use this tree for food, shelter and water, giving the tree one of its well deserved names, The Tree of Life.

We learned many fascinating facts about this incredible tree – that it lives for over a thousand years, can grow to up to forty feet across (yes that’s right, forty feet across!) and sixty feet high.

This is the yellow-billed hornbill, an endangered bird that finds a hole in the tree, builds a wall behind itself while it lays and sits on its eggs, and is fed through a small hole by its mate. Once the eggs are hatched and the chicks are a few weeks old, the mother breaks out and then the parents and chicks rebuild the wall to keep the chicks safe for another few weeks while both parents feed them. Incredible! Find out more from the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, the site which also gave us permission to use their photo.

Here is another cool bird that builds its nest which hangs from the Baobab, the red-headed weaver:

This eager-to-please male builds the nest and then invites its mate to have a look at it. If she doesn’t like it, he must start all over again!

The website which allowed us to use these images is a company which provides tours in Africa and their guides produce a blog which contains some incredible images and stories. Have a look here at Africa Geographic and search their blog.

These are the lovely books we have shared, learning about the language, animals and way of life in Africa. These can be borrowed from the library, or you can come and have a look at our displays.

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Some familiar Reading Role Models – who is yours?

Two platoon leaders in the US Army started recommending books to their troops and they found their book lists so successful at getting them reading that they launched a website where the recommendations of the rich and famous could be found. People donated funds so that these books could be supplied to the service personnel in need. A great scheme you can look at here.

Barack Obama is a great reader and his recommendations are publicised widely in the US. Here is a sample of his choices from The Independant newspaper in the U.K. From Harry Potter to Shakespeare no less. In an interview with the New York Times, when asked how reading helped him in his solitary days he said

…. it reintroduced me to the power of words as a way to figure out who you are and what you think, and what you believe, and what’s important, and to sort through and interpret this swirl of events that is happening around you every minute.

Reading can do that. It can also help you read quickly through the mountains of reports and legislation you would need to read as President, or through the mountains of information you need to wade through as a high school or college student. We talked about this with some of our year 7/8s this week.

Significantly though, when a survey was carried out with over 2000 students aged between 7 and 15, they said that the most important reading role models to inspire them to read were their Mum (71%), their Dad (62%), their friends, their teachers and other adults at school. Most chose a role model for their qualities such as being caring, hard working and honest rather than for being famous or rich (or goodlooking, but it didn’t say these qualities have to be mutually exclusive!). When asked how they thought their role model inspires them to read, they said if

  • They recommended books for them to read
  • They explain to them why it’s important to read

At school we look to our teachers and other adults to be great reading role models for our students.  In the library we have a new Cool Wall where some of us are showing that we don’t just tell children to read but love to read ourselves. Many of the books they love can be borrowed from our library. More will be added, but here are a few of our wonderful reading superheroes:

Mr Haddock’s role model was his Mum, who was also a school librarian. He read and loved everything she recommended, even if as a cool teenager he didn’t always admit that his mum’s choices were the best. A lover of fantasy series, he would recommend books by David Eddings (such as the Belgariad series we have in the library), Raymond E. Feist and of course Harry Potter. He also enjoyed Nancy Drew and Hardy Brothers mystery books and CalvinHobbs comic strips. The theatrical Mr Haddock now reads Shakespeare’s plays or re-reads his old favourite series.

 

Mrs Abrams grew up in a house that was full of books, and both her Mum and Dad read lots of non-fiction books about the areas they were interested in, such as architecture and gardening. Great role models were also her older sister and her friends both at school and since leaving college.

Mrs Abrams loves the kinds of books she now reads to the students in her classes, such as Wonder, Holes, Hoot and Hatchet, all books we have in the library. She enjoyed Enid Blyton series and Roald Dahl books when she was younger. She likes books with some adventure and mystery in them, and just very good interesting stories such as All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr (on Obama’s top 10 too) and My Family and other animals by Gerald Durrell.

 

Mr Daily immediately recalled enjoying Phillip Pullman’s Northern Lights and the Dark Materials trilogy, an exciting and at times dark series about a girl who finds out that her mother is part of a scheme to remove “dust” from the atmosphere by separating children from their daemons, their soul companions. This series was completed in 2000, and we are excited to know that Pullman is soon to release a fourth book which acts as both a prequel and sequel to the original series. Mr Daily also admits to enjoying the Phoebe and her Unicorn books!

 

Mr Karl‘s reading role model was his Mum. He really enjoyed reading magic and fantasy books like Lord of the Rings. Mr Karl can also recommend the Skulduggery Pleasant series!

Hazel doesn’t recall anyone in particular being a reading role model but once she discovered the joy of reading really made up for lost time!  Hazel loves fantasy series, by authors Anne McCaffrey and Raymond E Feist, like some of those we have at school – Fablehaven, Belgariad, and Lord of the Rings, and sci-fi fiction by author Robert Heinlein. Terry Pratchett writes funny fantasy fiction about all kinds of magical things and we have some of his books in the library.

Finally, Mrs Bamber used to love Enid Blyton books, series like the Magic Faraway Tree and boarding school stories like Malory Towers, and later Judy Blume and Nancy Drew. I think my reading role model was my Dad because he read a lot of books about the war and, without fail, a daily broadsheet and evening newspaper. Nowadays rarely a day goes by that something Harry Potter related is not mentioned in our house! I love to read mystery, historical fiction, and classic love stories.

Come and look at our reading superhero wall in the library and borrow one of these recommendations. We guarantee you will enjoy them!

 

 

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Sky High – Jean Batten’s incredible flying adventures

I recently attended the book launch of this quality new non-fiction book from David Hill, beautifully illustrated by local artist Phoebe Morris.

David wanted to tell the story of Jean’s single-minded determination and bravery because many of the other books written about her focused on other aspects of Jean’s life. Jean broke many records, including being the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia, and back again, and from Australia to New Zealand. She often broke the records that had been set by men and then broke her own records. She was celebrated both in New Zealand and across the world. Here is an extract from the New Zealand Herald of October 12th 1936 when she had just re-broken one of her records, reducing her own time down from 14 days to just under 6.

“A large crowd greeted Miss Batten when she made a spectacular landing at Darwin. She was delighted with her success and with the warmth of her reception, but was feeling tired, having had only seven hours’ sleep in five days”

    

You can find newspaper articles about anything that has been reported in New Zealand over the last century by searching Papers Past, another database that the National Library of New Zealand gives us access to. There are also many historic letters and papers going back to the time of the early settlers. You can try it here. When you have found something, remember to click on the link at the bottom of the extract to view the whole article.

The artist Phoebe Morris talked at the launch about some of the dramatic scenes she had captured in the book. Here’s one of my favourites:

Phoebe again wanted to focus more on the achievement and bravery of Miss Batten and capture the drama of the moments rather than focus on her looks, for example not emphasising beautiful long eyelashes in her close up images.

Jean was named Hine-o-te-Rangi, Daughter of the Skies by the Maori people. Phoebe Morris was inspired for one of her illustrations by a photograph showing Jean with Arawa Chief Mita Taupopoki.

Photograph reproduced with permission from Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki.

Phoebe Morris was born in Wellington, attended Brooklyn School, Wellington Girls’ College and Victoria University and now has a successful studio in the heart of the city.

We have one of David Hill and Phoebe Morris’s other collaborations in the library, Speed King, about the life of Bert Munro, and we will soon have First to the Top about Edmund Hillary. Come and borrow them.

 

 

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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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