Tag Archive | PBS

Australia… the Country/Island/Continent and Then Some

Our newest focus of interest for school is a new one… we have turned our learning to all things AUSTRALIAN! This was precipitated by having some wonderful penpals who live in Australia… add to that multiple facebook and egroup friends who ALSO come from this continent and we were ready to jump in with both feet.

I have to admit I came into this knowing a lot of the stereotypical things… Vegemite is a favourite food, Sydney has a wicked looking opera house, Aboriginal art is fantastic… But I have personally learned so much! Every day there is something new and the kids have been over the moon with their wish to share daily facts and nuggets of information.

I am going to share out resources a little differently with this one. We have our list of books which I will share, and some main websites… but a lot of our information came from friends and general web inquires. I don’t plan on sharing each and every site we used, but I will highlight some I found amazingly useful of course. I will also share out outline of topics covered. I tried to vary them as much as possible and give the kids a range of simple and complicated questions to answer with the intent that if they found something they loved learning about (ie. animals of Australia) we could always go a wee bit further with that.

Of course we had a laundry list of books and DVDs but I will try and share as many as I can… starting with books!

  • Ocean: A Visual Encyclopedia HERE
  • Countries of the World: Australia by Michael Dahl HERE
  • Life in the Australian Outback by Jann Einfeld HERE. This one was a great resource that we had to re-request, as apparently someone else figured that out as well!
  • You Wouldn’t Want to Be an 18th-Century British Convict! (A Trip to Australia You’d Rather Not Take) by Meredith Costain HERE. We love this series of books. A humorous and rather frank discussion about some sucky times in different places.
  • Australia and New Zealand (A True Book) by Elaine Landau HERE. I admit it, we got caught up in the joy that is learning about Australia and only gave New Zealand a nod. I think we will do a mini report on it in the summer.
  • Australia in Pictures by Ann Kerns HERE
  • Cultures of the World Australia by Vijeya Rajendra HERE
  • Ready to Dream by Donna Jo Napoli HERE, this is a book I would love to own myself. Gorgeous story about aboriginal art and how it is made in nature and often transient. LOVE THIS ONE, worth the read even if you are not doing an Austrlian focus.
  • It’s a Baby! – Koala and Tasmanian Devil. These are cute books, simple but a great resource. Both are by Katherine Hengel.
  • A Look at Australia by Helen Frost HERE
  • Countries of the World Australia by Kate Turner HERE this is a National Geographic publication.
  • The Koalas of Australia by Linda George HERE
  • Emu by Claire Saxby. It is both a story and an information book. Great illustrations HERE.
  • Sand Swimmers by Narelle Oliver. This covers life in “Australia’s Desert Wilderness” HERE.
  • Minmi and Other Dinosaurs of Australia by Dougal Dixon. This was our launching pad for our dinosaur research. Not an easy task since there are no full skeletons of dinosaurs from Australia! HERE.
  • Koala Hospital by . ADORABLE and so informative HERE.
  • Not-For-Parents Australia Everything You Ever Wanted to Know a wacky fact book HERE.
  • Australia by Ann Heinrichs (her name pops up in almost every country unit we do) HERE.
  • Australia by Katie Bagley HERE
  • Australia by Mary Berendes HERE
  • Sugar Gliders by Caroline Wightman HERE
  • Explore Australia and Oceania by Bobbie Kalman HERE
  • Early People by EyeWonder HERE
  • Bilby: Secrets of an Australian Marsupial by Edel Wignell HERE
  • Unusual Creatures by Michael Hearst HERE
  • Nocturne Creatures of the Night by Traer Scott HERE
  • Who Was Steve Irwin? by Dina Anastasio HERE
  • Great Barrier Reef by David Doubilet HERE

Story Books… or at least ones that are a large part story or fable or something…

  • Stories From the Billabong by James Vance Marshall. I should say RETOLD by… excellent collection of Aboriginal Dreamtime stories. HERE
  • Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures #8 – The Australian Boomerang Bonanza by Jeff Brown HERE
  • How to Scratch a Wombat by Jackie French (a famous Australian author) HERE. Gavin used this one on his mini wombat report and enjoyed it greatly.
  • Fimding Serendipity. While not a book about Australia it is written by Angelica Banks – two Tasmanian authors. AMAZING book. Trinity and I read it chapter by chapter. HERE
  • Over in Australia: Amazing Animals Down Under by Marianne Berkes HERE
  • Dial-a-Croc by Mike Dumbleton HERE. This one made us all laugh. It is all about a girl making a deal with a crocodile to make money.
  • The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths. This one made us all giggle… lots of fun pictures and crazy antics HERE.
  • My Uncle the Werewolf by Jackie French… we absolutely loved EVERYTHING we read by her! HERE
  • And then there were the Jackie French wombat books – Diary of a Wombat HERE, Christmas Wombat HERE, and Diary of a Baby Wombat HERE.


  • Rescuers Down Under (More for fun than anything else but the kids really enjoyed this classic) HERE
  • Kangaroo Mob HERE, a 2012 PBS video about the issue with encroaching kangaroo and city living.
  • Great Barrier Reef by BBC Earth HERE.
  • Destination Travel Guide Australia, this one was amazing one second and then… well I would suggest pre watching or at least watching with your kids. The woman sees AMAZING portions of Australia we did not see on other shows, books etc… BUT she also stops into a lingerie bar and talks to a madam at a brothel… yup mom is quick on the fast forward. We watched the first area on the DVD so I cannot vouch for the rest, but some of the locations she saw were BREATH TAKING and the opal mine with its underground living amazing as well. HERE

I do like to, even when we are not actually creating a lapbook per say, use the resources. I glue them onto flat pages and we still use the flapbooks etc for a bit of a change up from the written and typed reports. Homeschool Share has one HERE. The same group has a Coral Reef lapbook we found useful HERE. Not all helpful resources are free ones, though I did not spend much on this unit out of necessity. We paid 1.50 US for a Great Barrier Reef lapbook by Only Passionate Curiosity HERE. Iman’s Home-School has a helpful page with links that we used HERE, again lapbook. DIY Homeschooler has a unit study set up with links  to different resources HERE. Homeschool Creations has their own study set out HERE. Those are basically the links for the pages that could let you run an independent unit of varying sizes. We took bits and pieces out of all of these.

Of course we also enjoy art and crafts. Our book was Super Simple Australian Art by Alex Kuskowski. It is a great reference and most of the projects used things around the house. For more ideas we had some websites to check out… A sugar glider brown paperbag puppet HERE thanks to Beatrice the Biologist… Activity Village has a whole series of Australian Animal crafts HERE… The Craft Train had a fun frilled lizard out of toilet paper rolls we didn’t quite get right but enjoyed trying out HERE, there are 9 crafts to choose from on Suzie’s Home Education Ideas page

Of course we covered dinosaurs… Emanuel would not let that pass us by. I won’t hunt them all down for  you but the book I listed in the book list (Minmi) is our basis and we used these two links for report pages… one by Sammy Ironleggs HERE which is free and the other by Kelly Lynch also free HERE. Dinosaur Zoo Live has a great resource with a list of Australian dinosaurs and print outs. I picked and chose out of this one HERE. It is a download and save right off the bat. I did find the information at Walking With Dinosaurs HERE interesting though.

One of our best resources was For Teachers For Students HERE. It is a resource site for Australian education and educators. Look up the specific states and territories and each has a great series of fact sheets.

Ok now for topics… we did a rather broad overview but here is a list of some we touched on and loved.

  • Government
  • Food
  • Schooling
  • Outback
  • First Peoples/famous people/demographics
  • New Zealand and Tasmania
  • Dinosaurs
  • Inventions
  • Tourist locations/locations of interest
  • Great Barrier Reef – we actually made ourselves a reef in our window. We drew our sourced out images that would work, coloured and cut them out and BAM hung in the window.20160729_143056
  • Mapping/natural resources
  • History
  • Culture/Art/Crafts
  • … the list goes on!

So all in all give Australia a good look. We enjoyed it extensively thanks to all of our Australian friends. Sorry this took so long to get up! I hope the resources are helpful!20170107_203827




Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

March 2nd marks the birth of the author Dr. Seuss… this is our second year celebrating that day. Last year we lucked out with a library program, but this year I was on my own for the most part. So we did what we do best… searched the internet, picked friends and family’s brains and of course requested books and movies from the library! Like with Chinese New Year and the Platypus I am collecting all my links, books, etc into one entry for easy searching! So here goes!

Day 1: The Lorax

  • We were most interested in the colouring pages but HERE is a page with multiple resources directed to focus specifically on the Lorax.
  • We had the maze for Trinity and Emanuel focused on recycling HERE.
  • Our other very important exercise was to write a letter to Mother Nature telling her how we would preserve her… each of the kids wrote a letter (Emanuel and Trinity had me write it for them). We talked about options and the importance of simply CARING! It was a fun and helpful conversation for us all. You can find the letter HERE.
  • A Lorax themed Word Search HERE.
  • In fact, Activity Village has a whole section devoted just to the book The Lorax with how to draws and everything. We just wanted to keep it somewhat briefer than their content. HERE is the link for that.

Day 2: Green Eggs and Ham

  • Colouring page straight out of the book HERE.
  • Word search for the bigger kids (though not overly difficult) HERE.
  • A simpler word search for your younger child HERE.
  • A themed tic tac toe board HERE.

Day 3: The Cat in the Hat and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish

  • Simple math for the little ones HERE.
  • Dot to Dot of the Cat himself HERE.
  • Crafty handprint Thing 1 and Thing 2 HERE.
  • Hat Craft Template HERE.
  • Make your own Cat in the Hat hat. We are using ours as a table centrepiece HERE.
  • In fact you can pick your own colouring page from the list HERE. Mostly Cat in the Hat.
  • Come up with a word that starts with a letter in the title Cat In The Hat HERE.
  • Rhyming fun with a list of words HERE. (One Fish Two Fish… theme)
  • Our chosen One Fish Two Fish colouring page HERE. I love the ones that are right out of the book.
  • An exercise in opposites HERE.
  • Finish the picture HERE.
  • Grinch themed word search HERE.
  • Learn to draw Dr. Seuss characters, specifically the Grinch is HERE.
  • A terrific more current image of the Grinch stealing toys HERE.
  • A freebie we used portions of HERE. We chose the rhyming words and the story order this year. I plan on trying the verb tenses at Christmas.
  • Dot to dot your way to your own Horton HERE.
  • Horton hears you… write him a letter HERE.
  • Search for words relevant to the book HERE.
  • Make your own elephant ears HERE.
  • Colour Horton HERE.

Tv and Movies

General Crafts

  • Well, with a party in the making for the 2nd what more can we ask for than some simple decorations! Well since we didn’t have any blue cardstock we made a white and red paper chain and combined it with a blue table cloth! RED WHITE AND BLUE are the colours for Dr. Seuss after all!
  • Dr. Seuss themed crafts and activities HERE.
  • 14 Dr. Seuss Craft and Treat Ideas HERE.
  • A Cat In The Hat inspired food HERE.

Additional books, Echo friendly

  • Dr. Seuss’s Wet Pet, Dry Pet, Your Pet, My Pet! (based on and inspired by One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish)
  • Hop on Pop
  • The Foot Book (Zander read this to Emanuel as part of his daily reading challenge), while this comes in board book form, ours was a hardcover.
  • Dr. Seuss’s ABC (Though Echo didn’t enjoy this one as much as Trinity and Emanuel did!)
  • Fox in Socks (I read this tongue twister gem while everyone laughed at me)
General Dr. Seuss’ worksheet links:

Family Crafts has a page with all the links separated by book. I did not do all the books listed and actually only had Echo listen to Hop on Pop instead of doing any sort of work sheet. You can find their link HERE. Many of the above links are off this page, I figured I would share as we used and as we found.

If you are interested in planning a full out birthday party here is a great link with the food ideas, games, crafts, etc to go to. I got a lot of the ideas for our party HERE. Or check out this general Pinterest Dr. Seuss party themed page HERE.

Want to make something to represent the Cat in the Hat’s hat? We didn’t have skewers so I laid them out in a pattern on the plate… worked well! Instructions HERE. We did not use grapes.

Want some food labels? HERE is the link specific to those.

Our extra reading! Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

This entry was posted on 05/03/2013, in Uncategorized. 7 Comments

Hello Dr. Seuss…


For all our Dr. Seuss resources check out the blog entry: Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

February 25-26

and thank you for enriching our literature and helping the boys WANT to read even more! Yes, Monday marked the beginning of our celebration of all things Dr. Seuss. After all, his birthday is on the 2nd of March! What book to start with… well the library helped me choose that one with the one week rental of the newest Lorax movie. We have touched on recycling and conservation before but I think the kids were REALLY affected by this book. The ending is slightly different than the movie of course and really much sadder. Trinity was especially upset with Once-ler and his lack of care with the trees. She simply could NOT understand why people would be willing to destroy everything and chase away the animals. She felt that it lacked explanation and was just WRONG! I have to agree that is was wrong… and be glad that she sees that straight off. We are doing folders for this unit with activities, For the Lorax we had 3 specific pages… Like the platypus I will also be combining my resources in a separate blog entry!

Gavin and Zander with our starter book

Emanuel and Trinity with two of the worksheets

Echo had her own book too… but this one was only influenced by Dr. Seuss.


The twins made our theme coloured paper chain… the table cloth is blue to round out the Dr. Seuss colours.

Paper chain

Anyway, we also had our platypus to face… a book to finish! AND a video to watch. The Perry Files from Disney’s Phineas and Ferb was a ton of fun! TWO videos to share today! One a brief veiw at a facility where you can SWIM with a platypus!! If only we lived in Australia!

Our second video is a day in the life of a platypus at a national park.

Our book for the day was one that took us two sessions to get through entirely: Platypus, A Century-long Mystery by William Caper. We really enjoyed this one as it focused on the last 100+ years of research with all the problems and bumps along the way.

The last book

We lucked out and got our hands on the Wild Kratts video for the platypus, Platypus Cafe from the first season and while this will go into our Wild Kratts binder and not our lapbook it was a welcome addition to our day. You can actually purchase episodes from this series on Amazon.com or watch a few on PBSkids.

Platypus Cafe

The Perry Files

We had our Pizza Hut reading program pizza today as well!

Well done boys!

It was actually an away day for Ken who was off to work at the office. It was rather different… but I think we did just fine!

Snuggles with Daddy

Don’t forget our outside time!

They built that whole structure

Tuesday was the beginning of assembly day for the kids, AFTER we learned about the Echidna. Sadly most videos are dedicated to the unusual male anatomy they have BUT I got a REALLY cute video of a baby one in a zoo!

I am hoping we will finish our lapbook by tomorrow. I will share the pictures of the whole thing then. In the meantime we continued with Dr. Seuss and Green Eggs and Ham. A VERY timely lesson for Miss Trinity with her picky food issues. We all drew pictures from the book and wrote out what this story told us. Earlier in the morning Ken had the boys and Trinity do the same for the Lorax. We also did some word searches and colouring pages.

Playing Green Eggs and Ham tick tac toe

Then Zander read The Foot Book to Emanuel! For Echo it was Hop on Pop. I would love to do all the activities associated with these books online but there just isn’t time! Thankfully I have added the main page with those links onto our reference blog. I DID try and have Gavin read the Green Eggs and Ham book but with the kids all wanting to see pictures I read it to them and he read Echo her book.

Reading together

Tomorrow it is The Cat in the Hat! Should be fun!! We have a craft or two and everything. When we got through the bulk of schooling I let the kids watch PBS. We lucked out – Electric Company AND a new (to us at least) Wild Kratts. Who doesn’t want to know more about the Colossal Squid and the Sperm Whale?

Wild Kratts

So life is good where learning can be found and we are learning left right and center!!!

With a little fresh air as well… that is a jump that Emanuel built for the neighbours dog to jump off of