English · History · music · Uncategorized · visual arts

Book Review: Mamie

Maime

Book review: Mamie by Tania McCartney

Where do I start with this beautiful illustrated story about the childhood of Australia’s sweetheart, May Gibbs (aka Mamie)!

Tania McCartney has brought the little girl ‘Mamie’ to life in this book filled with references to May Gibbs’ original stories and illustrations.

I highly recommend this book for homes and schools that want to encourage a creative culture for two main reasons. Firstly, this book gives children access to the history of an iconic Australian artist and author, which is great for English, history and Art subjects, in a way that children will enjoy. Secondly, the book describes Gibbs’ inspirational creative way of seeing the world. She spends plenty of time playing in nature, using her imagination and practicing her artistic skills. We get to see Mamie sing, draw, paint, dance, play, bake, sew, explore, observe, imagine and dream. These words and images will make the creative types feel like they’ve made a new, kindred friend.

An adorable, whimsy tale of an inspirational Australian child.

To extend the learning from this book you could:

  • Read a May Gibbs book and discuss the similarities and references in Mamie.
  • Explore the other wonderful Australian works by Tania McCartney.
  • Find some gum blossoms and leaves to paint or draw. Perhaps you could turn some of your illustrations into characters.
  • Visit the original home of Mamie, May Gibbs’ Nutcote. 

For more creativity inspiring book suggestions, visit our library.

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English · Science and Technology · Uncategorized · visual arts

Book Review: Australian Birds

Australian birds

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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Drama · English · Geography · History · Mathematics · music · PDHPE · Science and Technology · Uncategorized · visual arts

Creative learning experiences: Sydney

 

SydneyI 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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Uncategorized · visual arts

Book Review: 365 Days of Drawing

365 days of drawing

365 draw

365 drawing

Book Review: 365 Days of Drawing by Lorna Scobie

Gosh! Where do I start with this beautiful book! As an art teacher, if I could give anyone (and I will be giving 5 copies as Christmas gifts this year!) a book that will encourage their drawing skills through playful art journaling, it would have to be this book by Lorna Scobie!

When I read about the author’s love of animals, the countryside, climbing trees and illustrating the natural world around her from a young age, I was reminded of the story of how Beatrix Potter developed her artmaking from childhood by following an intrinsic motivation to respond to the world around her.

I love that this book not only gives us tutorials on art skills such as choosing colour palettes, shading objects to create dimension and scaling drawings but it also has tasks like visiting a museum and taking your drawing and painting tasks outside. Every now and then you are also asked to reflect on yourself as the artist with question tasks like “What inspires you” and “How have you overcome the challenge” of some of the tasks that may have been trickier than others. The book has a definite positive vibe and allows you to artistically reflect on your favourite people, seasons and memories.

Some tasks will teach and challenge your drawing/painting skills and others will let your imagination run free and relax through the comfort of pattern making. As an art teacher, I appreciate the references of some tasks, from a Matisse style collage to an Escher style spoon drawing. The book is also dotted with Scobie’s own inspiring watercolour illustrations to give you the courage to create.

Being someone who has kept my own art diaries from childhood, I feel like this is a beautiful way to document your own art skill development in a way that is easy to keep and look back on. Like a favourite novel, you can keep returning to this journal and then safely placing it back with your other treasured books.

As Sobie says in the introduction, this book inspires drawing and art activities through Imagination, Tutorials, Relaxation, Colour Theory and Observation. Each of the 365 activities focus on one of these areas. Everyone in my family now wants their own copy and so I’ve ordered more. From 8 to 108 this book can be enjoyed by all.

I did not get paid for this post, I just really loved this book and thought others may too. When I messaged the talented Lorna Scobie to ask if she would mind me posting a review of her book she kindly said I could and that she may share the review, so if you have visited from her page, welcome!

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English · Science and Technology · Uncategorized · visual arts

Dear Adult, I’m Learning

I'm learning

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. 

English · Geography · History · Uncategorized · visual arts

Book Review: Australia Illustrated

Australia

Book Review: Australia Illustrated by Tania McCartney

Tania McCartney is an Australian artist who has illustrated many books. Her journey also includes a lot of other creative ventures, including encouraging others to draw and illustrate. Anyone who helps promote creativity in Australia gets a big thumbs up from us!

Australia Illustrated is a beautifully illustrated book dedicated to bringing the character of Australia to life through McCartney’s whimsy, watercolour images and digital art. Each section of this vast and varied country is explored, from the iconic places we know and love to the quirkier details that make us want to explore it more. From major cities to iconic foods, animals to historic details, Australia Illustrated is a visual feast of learning.

This book is a perfect way to introduce kids to the geography and diversity of this big land. The illustrations are an ideal way to communicate all of the amazing details and both kids and adults will be inspired. It would also be the perfect companion to anyone who is exploring Australia or planning a trip!

Tania McCartney’s website has links to teaching notes that explain all of the ways her book relates to different subject areas. It has quite a few ideas for activities in those different subject areas too.

To extend the learning from this book, here are some extra suggestions for activities.

  • On a map of Australia, plan a trip based on the things from the book you would like to visit.
  • Draw some of your own illustrations of things you think are important for people to know about Australia or another country that is significant to you.
  • Using the illustrations you have drawn from the previous task, create a poster/brochure for your chosen country.
  • Give watercolour painting a go!

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English · Geography · History · Science and Technology · Uncategorized · visual arts

Book Review: Home

home

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.