Book review: Australian Birds by Matt Chun
This gorgeous book is by artist Matt Chun. I’ve included this book in my recommendations as not only is it a wonderful gathering of beautiful artworks but it is also a fantastic introduction to facts about Australian birds that is great for children. This would be a valuable book for any library.
The illustrations are so lovely and really capture the personality of each Australian bird. Opposite each artwork is a few paragraphs describing the life, habitat, diet and nests unique to each bird family. It is written in a way that is easy to understand and yet still interesting.
To extend the learning from this book, here are some more suggestions for activities.
- Take notice of the birds around your home and see if you recognise any of them from the book.
- Find some photos of native birds and create your own illustrations.
- What other birds are native to your area? Write a short description about their nest, habitat and diet.
This is a great book for art and science.
For more creative learning book suggestions, visit our library.
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I think most educators would agree that excursions are a fantastic and fun learning experience. We try to visit the city centre of Sydney, NSW a few times each year and explore all the wonderful things there are to experience and learn from. I think the following activities are worth the time/money and can easily be linked to learning outcomes. This list includes places and activities we have visited as well as suggestions from other educators that we are yet to visit but plan to! Park the car, put on your most comfortable shoes, grab your Opal card and explore! You could also pack a small art diary and some sketching pencils!
You might like to read my post about talking with children about art too.
I have also added cost indicators from Free, $, $$, $$$ to help. I have done my best to make sure this information is up to date and accurate at the time of posting but you will need to do your own research and planning as these things can change any time.
- Powerhouse Museum – You can spend hours here and there is so much on offer for science, technology, history and art. $
- Art Gallery of NSW – Fantastic for art, history and geography. Free – $$
- The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney – Great for science, geography and history. Free
- Chinese Garden of Friendship – Great for history and geography. $
- Australian National Maritime Museum – Amazing for history, science, technology, geography and often art. I think its worth paying the extra to get on board the ships as they are fantastic. Talk to the guides on the ships too as they are full of great information. Free – $$$
- Chinatown – great for geography and history.
- Sydney Aquarium – Great for science and geography $$$
- Wildlife Sydney – Great for science and geography $$$
- Darling Harbour playground – great for fun with lots of interactive play. Free
- Museum of Contemporary Art – See what programs are currently on offer to suit children and families. Free – $
- Sydney Opera House – Amazing for music, art, drama, dance and history. It’s free to visit, which in itself is a wonderful experience, but it is definitely worth looking out for a moderate cost family friendly show often on in the school holidays. Free – $$$
- Sydney Observatory – Great for science, history and geography. Its free to visit but the tour costs a little. The planetarium often travels to libraries in other towns and is an excellent experience. Free – $
- May Gibbs’ Nutcote – Home and gardens of May Gibbs, now museum. Fantastic for English, history and art. $
- Pylon Lookout, Sydney Harbour Bridge – Great for history, geography and science. $$
- Public Transport, especially ferries – Great for science, technology and geography. The ferry is a great way to view the architecture and landscape of the harbour as well. Get the cheap Sunday rates. $$
- Barangaroo Reserve – wonderful for history, art, geography and science. Free
- Taronga Zoo – great for science, geography and history. $$$
- Cockatoo Island – Great for history. $$
- Wendy’s Secret Garden – lovely for art, history and geography. (Wendy is the wife of the late artist Brett Whiteley). Free
- ABC Studios tour – $$ cost but needs to be organised in advance
- Australian Museum – Great for science, history, geography and art. $$
- The Rocks walking tour – Free app
- Vivid Sydney – Annual light exhibition
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This is one of my favourite and most popular additions to art supplies! Cardboard! Cardboard boxes, cardboard rolls etc etc. Add in some washi tape and you will have given someone hours of fun and creativity. It sounds so simple but that’s the thing about creative gifts, the more simple they are the more open-ended the possibilities are and the more room there is for creativity. Here is a marble run we created from cardboard rolls and washi tape but cardboard also lends itself beautifully to any kind of sculpture or 3D creations.
Dear adult, please don’t judge all my artmaking based on the finished product.
When you see my collapsing cardboard sculpture, I’m learning about gravity and engineering.
When you see my scribbled mess, I’m developing my fine motor skills.
When you see my clay creations, I’m learning about 3D shapes and spacial awareness.
When you see my almost totally brown painting, I’m learning to mix colours and how they all eventually mix to make brown.
When you see me upset about my sandcastle being washed away, I’m learning that not every artwork I make can be permanent.
When you see me building with blocks, I’m learning to turn a mess of items into something I recognise.
When you see me frustrated about my creation, I’m learning that failure is part of the creative process.
When you see me creating, my brain is engaged in a neurological workout.
Book Review: Home by Jeannie Baker (It is also titled Belonging)
Home is one of the many, many books created by collage construction artist, Jeannie Baker. This book is the companion to another book of Baker’s, Window. Where Window creatively documents the urban sprawl of a suburb through the changing view from the window, Home/Belonging documents the hopeful reverse, where the concrete jungle of the city becomes slowly transformed into a lush green community space for the residents and native creatures. You can read more about the ideas of this wonderful book on Jeannie Baker’s website.
If a picture paints a thousand words, then Jeannie Baker’s, often wordless books, speak volumes about community, culture, the environment and changing times. There is a reason they are on the NSW English suggested texts lists for Stage 1, 2, 3 and 4 multiple times. They speak to people of all ages through the different layers of meaning.
Jeannie Baker demonstrates extreme levels of patience with her artmaking method, building up collages, layer by layer after dreaming up the idea, creating the images to work from and sourcing all of the varied materials. We have been fortunate enough to visit an exhibition of her collage works from her books and they are truly inspiring.
To extend the learning from this book, there are so many things you could do.
- Collect materials and design and make your own collage construction.
- Look at old photos of your own city, town or environment and see how it has changed over time.
- Brainstorm ways to include more native plants in your community.
- Research what the environmental issues are in your local community and think about what you could do to help solve these problems.
- Write a description of a community from the perspective of two families. One perspective from today and one perspective from fifty years ago.
For more creativity inspiring book suggestions, visit our library.