TeachersPayTeachers Resources Which Have Caught My Eye

Do you ever find yourself browsing TeachersPayTeachers and coming across all sorts of amazing resources you can’t help but explore . . . even if you don’t really need them! I’m completely guilty of this - so I just had to put some of these products together in one place to share with you!

 
6 fabulous resources from Teachers Pay Teachers creators. With everything from geography to dramatic play to certificates, this is a must read list of great teaching and learning resources available through TeachersPayTeachers. Perfect for your classroom! A Galarious Goods blog post
 

Ok, so this isn’t one resource, but a whole lot of them - and they are utterly amazing. Top Teaching Tasks puts together reading comprehension skills and puzzles to create these engaging, motivating resources which are perfect for a whole range of holidays or learning topics. I would imagine that this range will continue to grow, so make sure you follow the shop for more.

One particular puzzle I wanted to highlight is a puzzle and so much more. The New Zealand Geography and Kiwiana Culture Unit would be a must have for New Zealand teachers, but could also be bought by teachers around the world for independent extension work - taking a little look into a country which many love but may not know much about. It would also be a brilliant purchase for families who are travelling around New Zealand - I know we would have had so much fun exploring the country through this unit before we travelled there in 2018!

2. Australian Prime Ministers Poster Set from Aussie Star Resources

I adore these beautiful posters. I think they would work well as a year long display in Australian upper-primary or social studies classrooms - a reminder that government (and Prime Ministers) are an important part of our life in Australia.

As well as being lovely to look at - you know these will be updated if (when) we get a new Prime Minister. I believe the turn around to get Scott Morrison included was about a week - an amazing turn around on a event no one really saw coming!

3. Word Building and Phonics Activity Cards from Aussie Waves

A hands on, engaging word building resource which can be used in a variety of ways with readers at a wide range of levels? Count me in!

This is such a lovely resource for lower primary students and can be combined with reading, writing and hands on fine motor resources. Imagine combining it with writing in sand or to make nonsense words which build on current word knowledge! I can see it being a really valuable addition to Prep, 1 and 2 classrooms and being used to build phonics, reading and spelling knowledge.

 
6 fabulous resources from Teachers Pay Teachers creators. With everything from geography to dramatic play to certificates, this is a must read list of great teaching and learning resources available through TeachersPayTeachers. Perfect for your classroom! A Galarious Goods blog post
 

My kids have recently been engaging in a lot of dramatic play (my poor sister was their hospital patient yesterday. She says she’s now vaccinated for everything!) so I’ve been watching Little Lifelong Learners intently for inspiration. There’s a wide range of dramatic play resources available, but I especially love this Post Office set which I think would be brilliant to use in lower primary (and some parts might stretch into older grades as well).

5. Student Awards and Certificates from A Plus Learning

Another range of resources rather than individual product, these certificates are a must have for the classroom. With students of the month and end of the year options, these would be wonderful to have available to recognise the amazing work done by your students in your classroom.

6. Clip Art from Green Grubs

Just look how beautiful this all is! I adore this beautiful work and it looks stunning on the screen and printed out.

While clip art is usually bought by resource creators, it can be a handy thing to have in the classroom. Most clip art creators have no limitations on personal, classroom use - so these images can be used in posters, classwork, art lessons, to make your slides and presentations fancy and more. I used the Australian symbols art work on menus for our school carnival (to go with a Possum Magic theme!) and they looked so professional and really drew customers into our stall!

Are you a TpT browser? What have you found lately? Leave a comment below to share your finds!

4 Ways to Use Amazing Songs To Make Your Lessons More Attractive

Some of my earliest memories of school include singing songs and using chants to remember what I was learning. (A is for Apple, A, A, A is still imprinted on my mind!). Songs are a wonderful way to help students understand and remember different learning topics - so where can we find them and how can we used them in the classroom?

 
4 Ways to Use Amazing Songs to Make Your Lessons More Attractive
 

Luckily for us, we live in the time of the internet and YouTube! This allows us almost instant access to some amazing educational songs which we can play right to our classes. One of my favourite bands for educational songs is They Might Be Giants. They have a couple of educational albums including Here Comes the ABCs and Here Comes the 123s, but the one I've used the most is Here Comes Science - I have a strange love for their Solid Liquid Gas song!

 
 

Schoolhouse Rock is a classic example of educational songs for a reason - even outside of the United States it's likely that you've heard at least some of their songs. These songs were originally created when an advertising executive realised that his son could remember all the lyrics to songs even though he was having trouble remembering multiplication tables. There's lots of songs available covering a range of topics - in English, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.

 
 

There are also a really wide range of teacher and student created educational songs! Some educators and classes have been incredibly creative with how they've explored a topic and they've been kind enough to share their creations with the internet.

 
 

But how can we use educational songs in the classroom?

1. Introduce New Topics and Gain Interest

Songs can be a wonderful way to introduce a new topic to a class. It may be directly connected to the topic you're going to be covering (like the Solid Liquid Gas song when you're about to explore solids, liquids and gases) or it might be indirectly connected (like protest songs when you're covering the Vietnam War and reactions to it). Students can just listen to the song, watch a music video or examine the lyrics. They may note new vocabulary, discuss what they think they're going to learn, or make connections to topics they've already covered or knowledge they already have.

2. Reinforce Facts, Events or Processes

Once students have been introduced to new topics or ideas, songs can assist in reinforcing them. This can be particularly useful for things which need to be memorised, like mathematical facts or formulas or historical dates. It may also offer an alternative way of looking at a topic - something which can be very useful for some students who are having difficulty with the way the material has been covered. 

3. Prompt Questioning and Further Exploration

While songs can definitely tell a story or provide information, their structure and length - and the fact that many are written for entertainment - means that inevitably parts are left out. This is great for us as teachers though, because we can use songs to prompt further questioning and exploration - did George Washington and Alexander Hamilton really have a close working relationship like they did in Hamilton? Why did Constantinople become Istanbul? What is the story told in From Little Things Big Things Grow?

 
 

Students can brainstorm these questions while listening to the songs, annotate on the lyrics of the songs or use a display board to add questions to as they learn more about the song and the events or ideas it describes.

Looking for a song about a historical event? This Genius list includes a lot of them - though not all would be appropriate for the classroom, so check them out first.

4. Create Your Own Songs

Can't find a good song for the topic you're covering? Then write your own (or ask your students to write one for you!)

Creating a song for your students, or having your class work together or in small groups to write songs can help to refine the topic you're teaching and really concentrate on what's important. Students need to show a really good understanding of the topic to create effective songs and the process can be a great way of clarifying and assessing what they know. 

Lots of teacher and student created songs begin as parodies of well known songs - this can make life much easier because you're not having to come up with the music or the rhythm of the songs - you're just fitting words into an already created structure. Some students (and teachers!) however, may enjoy the creative freedom of coming up with a brand new song.

This step by step guide is a great place to start if you're considering writing your own educational songs.

 
Using songs in the classroom - blog post from Galarious Goods
 

Whether you're just listening, taking an in-depth look at educational songs as part of your teaching or planning on becoming the next Schoolhouse Rock, educational songs are a great way of adding interest and memorability to your lessons. It's definitely worth trying to fit them into a lesson where you can.

Want to use educational song in Australian Government assessment? The Year 6 Creating Laws in Australia Assessment resource includes an educational song writing assessment task - perfect for any class examining how laws are made.

 
 
 
 

6 Exciting Books for Students Who Love The Ruins of Gorlan

The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan is a great book and I thoroughly enjoyed using it to create a comprehensive book study. Recently I updated the Ruins of Gorlan resources, adding additional material and activities and offering more options for teachers using the book study in the their classrooms. To celebrate the update, I'm pleased to present a new Ruins of Gorlan blog post offering 6 additional books (with a few sneaky extras) for students who loved the Ruins of Gorlan.
 

 
6 Exciting Books for Students Who Love The Ruins of Gorlan. A list of great books for fans of the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

The Mapmaker Chronicles by A.L. Tait

I've only read the first in this series (the second is in my to-read pile!) but I loved it as much as I love the Ranger's Apprentice books. It's similar in 'style' to The Ranger's Apprentice - a fictional setting similar to a real-life historical period - and there's some other similarities, but it's also very much its own book, with unique characters and antagonists and completely different adventures.

The king wants to know what lies in the world and he's looking for captains and map makers who can make it happen. Quinn, a 14 year old boy who would prefer a quiet farm life, is chosen as one of the map makers.

This would be a great read aloud book, as well as working as a whole class or small group novel study. It could be easily connected to the ideas of map making and explorers around the world and could definitely lead to some interesting discussions amongst students.

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

If you're looking for a book which combines fantasy and adventure, it's hard to go past The Hobbit. The tale of Bilbo Baggins who sets off on an unexpected adventure with a group of dwarves is a classic for a reason. Although it goes more into the fantasy side of things than The Ruins of Gorlan, it balances it nicely with adventure - making it a easier read for those students who make not have a lot of experience with the fantasy genre. 

The Hobbit is a great book as a read aloud (prepare your voice for the Gollum chapter), a small group or recommended as a reader's workshop novel. Students who finish with The Hobbit may like to go on and explore The Lord of the Rings.

 
6 Exciting Books for Students Who Love The Ruins of Gorlan. A list of great books for fans of the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman

The Ruins of Gorlan is set in a time period and place which which obviously meant to reflect medieval England. For a different look at the medieval world, students may like to explore Catherine, Called Birdy, a diary style book which examines the life of the daughter of a knight. It explores the social history of medieval life and the pressures on young girls to be married.

This would make a fascinating comparison piece with The Ruins of Gorlan. Students could discuss why John Flanagan chose to be inspired by the medieval time period while making changes, especially in the way women are treated. I think this book would be especially effective in small group discussions.


Castle by David Macaulay

For a different way of looking at the medieval world, students may like to examine Castle, a picture book which combines drawings of a fictional castle (based on detailed research) with descriptions of the construction process. This would be a brilliant book to combine with STEM activities, as students explore the different elements which go into making up a castle. This additional knowledge may also provide more context for some parts of The Ruins of Gorlan or assist students in picturing events in The Ruins of Gorlan more clearly.

 
6 Exciting Books for Students Who Love The Ruins of Gorlan. A list of great books for fans of the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

The Thief tells the story of Gen, a thief who is released from prison to assist the magus - the King's scholar. It's an excellent adventure book, with a main character who demonstrates intelligence, skill and bravery, when required - much like Will in The Ruins of Gorlan. It also demonstrates influences from historical cultures - something which would be fascinating for students to explore. This would work particularly well as an option in Reader's Workshop (especially with a good book talk) or as a read aloud book for the whole class or a small group.


Other Ranger's Apprentice books and The Brotherband Series by John Flanagan

It feels a little like cheating to include these, but they are a must read for any fans of The Ruins of Gorlan. The Ranger's Apprentice is not a strictly chronological series - the books are often gathered together in twos or threes (though there are some stand alones and a collection of short stories) and they jump forward and backward around Will's life. There's a lot in them to explore and lots of students will be caught up in the adventures of Will, Halt and their friends.

Brotherband goes off to the land of Skandia - a land we meet in the second, third and fourth Ranger's Apprentice books - and continues the adventures in a slightly different way.

Both series are great to have available - either in the classroom library or the school library - for when students have finished reading The Ruins of Gorlan. Alternatively, you may like to help a small group of Ruins of Gorlan fans conduct their own book study on one or more of the Ranger's Apprentice series when they're finished with the first book.

Related posts to read:

 
 

6 Great Books to Integrate With Australian Social Studies


There are so many different ways to explore Australian social studies (or Humanities and Social Sciences as it is described in the Australian curriculum) in the classroom. One of the best ways is to use books - fiction and non fiction - which relate to the themes, ideas and events our students are exploring. I'm pleased to present six books covering Australian social studies which are perfect for middle grades classrooms.

 
6 Great Books to Integrate With Australian Social Studies - Galarious Goods
 

I'm Australian Too by Mem Fox and Ronojoy Ghosh

While the text seems simple at first, there's a lot in this picture book to explore and discuss when it comes to Australian identity, those who come to Australia and things which represent Australia. Students can look at and research some of the different reasons people come to Australia, comparing and contrasting different stories. They may also like to contribute their own stories or interview someone who has travelled to Australia and become an Australian citizen. It would definitely be a great book to extend ideas when looking at citizenship and modern Australian history. You can also use the book to discuss global citizenship and the responsibilities different countries and individuals have - or should have - to people in other parts of the world.

You can get an I'm Australian Too Book Study resource at the Galarious Goods Shop

 
 

How to Build Your Own Country by Valerie Wyatt and Fred Rix

This is a brilliant non-fiction book for any classroom covering government or economics! What would you do if you had your own country? What would you need to know? How do you stop your country from falling apart? While this book walks you through the process of setting up your own country, it also looks at the knowledge which will help any young country builder make their country an excellent one. You can use it as the foundation of a teaching unit, dig into bits of it for different activities or make it available for those students who want to explore further. It's not an Australian-centric book, but it's a great general look at some really important topics.

 

Book Trailer for How to Build Your Own Country

 

The Mostly True Story of Matthew and Trim by Cassandra Golds and Stephen Axelsen

Australian history told through a graphic novel? Yes please! This graphic novel tells the story of Matthew Flinders who circumnavigated and mapped Australia. You can use this in small groups in the classroom, with students comparing the graphic novel retelling with other histories of Matthew Flinders. Students can discuss why Flinder's story is important and what his achievements meant to Australia and compare him to other explorers and map makers. Students can also look at the geographical challenges of map making and make their own maps - an activity which can also integrate reading and social studies with mathematics!

 

Say Yes: A Story of Friendship, Fairness and a Vote for Hope by Jennifer Castles and Paul Seden

This beautiful book is centred around the friendship between an Aboriginal girl and a non-Aboriginal girl and the 1967 Referendum in Australia. Including images, paper ephemera and newspaper clippings from the time, it explores how many laws at the time were unfair to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia and invites readers to think about how things could be better going forward into the future. It's a perfect social studies book, which can be related to law making and the rule of law, to referendums, to what a census is and how it impacts decision making as well as modern Australian history. Examining the images in the book could also give students inspiration when they're sharing their own history research.

 

News story about the friendship behind Say Yes - A Story of Friendship, Fairness and a Vote for Hope

 

Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman

It can be really meaningful to students to link a class novel study with a social studies unit. Morris Gleitzman's Boy Overboard is an excellent book for any class examining why people come to Australia and what it means to be Australian. The story of Jamal and his family who flee the Taliban in Afghanistan for the safety of Australia, readers get to see the difficulties refugees can face and the motivations which can turn people into refugees in the first place. It's a great book to read while looking at modern history, those who have come to Australia over history or global citizenship and one which students can study and read as a class novel or investigate as a teacher read-aloud.

You can get the Boy Overboard Complete Novel Study Bundle at Galarious Goods

 
 

Refuge by Jackie French

Jackie French has so many books which are excellent to tie in with Australian social studies - I could make an entire post containing only her books! Refuge is a really interesting book to read - it went in a totally different direction from what I expected. I think this one would make a particularly good read aloud - particularly if students make predictions about the story before it began. Refuge looks at different people from different time periods who have come to one land as refugees and find themselves in a rather odd place. It is very good to connect to Australian history and I highly recommend it.

You can read more about Refuge at Jackie French's website

Find a wide range of teaching resources at Galarious Goods

 
 

Adventure Girl and Reclusive Author

Three Ways to Investigate Stereotypes Using the Nim's Island Movie

I've previously introduced Nim's Island, the adventure book by Wendy Orr. But you can also enjoy the story as an adventure movie, released in 2008. The movie and the book are fantastic to explore together in the classroom, especially when we are teaching characters. The notion of character stereotyping, whether stereotypes are good or bad and how they apply to Nim's Island makes for a wonderful classroom investigation - giving students questioning tools they can also transfer to a range of other texts.
 

 
Adventure Girl and Reclusive Author - Three Ways to Investigate Stereotypes Using the Nim's Island Movie by Galarious Goods
 

A stereotype is an oversimplified view at a character or person, usually demonstrated through a collection of behaviours or traits. First glances at the Nim's Island movie tell us that we can see Nim as an adventure girl. She flies through the trees, uses different adventuring tools and tackles big challenges. Meanwhile, Alex Rover can be seen as a the stereotype of an author. She is reclusive, a little scattered and her whole life revolves around her books and her writing. As students are watching the movie, they can find other examples of these stereotypes and others. But once they've found the examples, what can they do with them?

Are the Stereotypes Realistic?

This is a great question to add to a comparison between the book and the movie. Students can have a look at character traits in the movie and note where they were similar or different to the book. Which ones were more realistic? Which ones were less realistic.

Students can also discuss whether authors would really be able to be mostly anonymous the way Alex Rover is or if they'd be required to attend events to promote their books. They can research authors who have been anonymous (or have tried to remain anonymous) and authors who use a pen name and why they do that. (J.K. Rowling is one example, as her adult crime novels are written under the pen name of Robert Galbraith).

Another classroom activity to look at whether stereotypes are realistic can involve acting it out. Students can identify a section of the movie which they feel show a particularly stereotyped version of the character. They can reenact that scene themselves, then look at ways they could change the character's words or actions to make them feel more realistic.


What Part Do Stereotypes Play in Books and Movies?

Although stereotypes often have negative connotations, they can be very useful when telling stories. They provide a shortcut to the reader or the viewer, helping them picture or understand the character and the behaviours of the character without needing extra descriptions. 

Students can explore this by thinking about how they picture certain characters. You can brainstorm a collection of 'character types' like princess, wicked witch or famous sports person and ask your students to draw what they think they would look like or write a description of them. Students can compare their drawings or descriptions and look at which elements or traits they share. 

Stereotypes can also help to surprise us when they are changed. When Alex Rover steps out into the world to help Nim, we know that it is a big thing - something her character would never do normally because it doesn't fit her stereotype. It lets us know that things are changing in the story and that we should be paying attention. Students can identify other times that characters break their stereotypes in movies or books and how that changes the way the story goes. You can set up a large piece of paper or display board for this and students can add their examples on pieces of paper or sticky notes as they find them.

 
Use a large piece of paper or a section of a display board for students to add stereotypes to as they find them
 

Can Stereotypes Be Harmful?

There's no doubt that stereotypes can be harmful in real life situations. They can act to give us incorrect impressions of people and box people into categories or situations where they're uncomfortable or restricted from doing what they'd like to do. But what about stereotypes in stories? Can they be harmful too?

Students can look at the way stereotypes are used in fairy-tales - especially the versions of fairy-tales which have come to us through popular movies. How is the princess portrayed? The prince? The step-mother? The dragon? How do we see those stereotypes and the language around them used in the real world? How many times do we see the word 'princess' on girl's clothing or toys? How does that have real world impacts?

We can also ask if all stereotypes are harmful? Nim is portrayed as an adventure girl - students can discuss whether that's a good or a bad portrayal and whether we should need more or less characters like her. They can also have a go at writing their own stories with characters like Nim or her father or Alex Rover. 

 
 
 
 

9 Brilliant Books to Read if You Love Nim's Island

Nim's Island by Wendy Orr makes a wonderful classroom read and is great to inspire classroom activities. But what do you read next? What books should teachers have on hand for those students who absolutely adore Nim's Island? From adventure to animals, survival to communication with authors - here's nine more books to read when you've finished with Nim's Island.

 
9 Brilliant Books to Read if You Love Nim's Island by Galarious Goods. Nine book recommendations and some ways to use them in the classroom
 

The Nim Sequels

This is, of course, the best place to start. Wendy Orr has authored two more books about Nim and her adventures - Nim at Sea and Rescue on Nim's Island. In the first, Nim finds herself out of her island comfort zone, heading out on a rescue mission. In Rescue on Nim's Island, she's back on the island, but this time she has to share the space with others. 

Sequels are a great way to explore characters and settings which we're already familiar with. Students can easily compare and contrast the different books, look at the ways the characters are developed and talk about which kinds of stories are suitable for sequels. The familiarity of the characters can also make it easier to look for underlying themes and how the story  conveys them.

 
9 Brilliant Books to Read if You Love Nim's Island by Galarious Goods
 

Islands and Survival

In Nim's Island, Nim is required to survive by herself after her father finds himself stranded out at sea - a task which becomes more difficult after she injures herself. Two other books which deal with survival are Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell and Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. 

In Island of the Blue Dolphins, Karana has to survive alone on an island after a series of events leaves her stranded. She needs to use innovation and apply new skills in order to survive for years. In Hatchet, Brian is a passenger in a small plane which crashes in a remote part of Canada. Like Nim, he finds himself all alone, but he doesn't have Nim's knowledge of his surroundings. With time, he discovers the skills he needs to survive and reach civilisation once more.

As well as comparing them to Nim's Island, these books open the way for an interesting classroom conversation about what is required to survive on your own. What knowledge do you need? What kind of personality do you need? Can anyone survive in extreme situations?

 
9 Brilliant Books to Read if You Love Nim's Island by Galarious Goods
 

Saving the Day

Nim is required to fight for her island when she spots a tourist boat heading for her secluded home. Students who enjoy this part of the plot may also enjoy The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex and Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins. Just as Nim employs her animal friends to help her fight for the island, the main characters of these two book work with unusual companions to save the day. In The True Meaning of Smekday, Tip sets out on a journey with the alien J. Lo to find her mother. Meanwhile in Gregor the Overlander, Gregor finds himself in a completely unfamiliar underground world where all kinds of giant creatures work together and against each other. Gregor finds himself caught up in a battle between two groups and, with the help of some of the creatures, strives to save the day.

Students can engage with these books by looking at what is required to save the day - what kind of personality does a hero have? This could also lead to classroom discussions of the word 'hero' in real life and what makes someone a 'hero'. Students can examine media reports which use the term, sort them into different groups and use them to write their own definitions.

 
9 Brilliant Books to Read if You Love Nim's Island by Galarious Goods
 

Animal Friendships

From the beginning of Nim's Island, we know about Nim's animal friends. She has a unique relationship with them and they often step up to help her throughout the book - just as she helps them. There are lots of books for the animal fans in your class including Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo and Charlotte's Web by E.B White. In Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal befriends a dog. The dog - Winn-Dixie - helps her make new connections with the humans around her as well as being a faithful friend. Charlotte's Web is often best remembered for the relationship between animals - particularly Wilbur the pig and Charlotte the spider - but it's the caring actions of Fern the little girl which first saves Wilbur, and the early chapters of the book look at how Fern nurtured and befriended the little pig.

Fiction books featuring animals are a great match with non-fiction books about animals. Students can question whether the animals would really demonstrate that kind of personality, research the features of those animals or explore stories about exceptional animals. 

 
9 Brilliant Books to Read if You Love Nim's Island by Galarious Goods
 

 

Author Relationships

Throughout Nim's Island, Nim communicates with the author Alex Rover through email. In Dear Mr Henshaw by Beverly Cleary, Leigh writes letters to his favourite author Boyd Henshaw. Both Nim and Leigh develop their relationships with the authors through their writing and find themselves having to build separations between the books they love and the authors as people.

These two books are a wonderful introduction into looking at the lives of authors and how they create their books. Many authors have biographies (or even autobiographies) to explore or have given interviews which are easy to find on the internet. Students can look at how authors are influenced by the world around them or things they see or hear or even write a thank you email to their favourite author (But don't ask authors to do your author assignment for you! They need that time for writing!)

 
9 Brilliant Books to Read if You Love Nim's Island by Galarious Goods
 
 
 

Four Simple Ways to Teach Nim's Island Outside the Classroom

Nim's Island by Wendy Orr is all about the adventures - and dangers - you can find when you get outside. Nim, her father and the author Alex Rover all head outside to learn new things and explore at one time or another. Here I have put together four Nim's Island related learning activities - encompassing a range of different teaching subjects - all of which can be completed outside the walls of the classroom. And they're almost certain to have minimal danger!

 
Four Simple Ways to Teach Nim's Island Outside the Classroom - Engaging, outdoor activities which explore events and themes of the novel Nim's Island by Wendy Orr.
 

1. Create an Island

(Teaching areas: mapping, geography, mathematics and possibly history)

For this activity you'll need some string, yarn or rope and a large space like a field, yard or oval.  You might like to use other marking tools as well, like hoops or cones, as well as measuring tools like tape measures and measuring wheels. Paper, pencils and clipboards can also be used. 

Use a large open space for students to create their own island. They might like to make it 'to scale' but unless you have a huge amount of room, it'll probably be reduced in size from a 'real' island. Use string or rope to mark the outside of the island and get your students to add any features they think the island needs, like hills or mountains, sources for water, land for growing crops, a safe place to shelter, beaches and forests. Have your students use different colour string or rope or other marking tools to mark out the features. This can be an opportunity to talk about the features of real islands around the world - which might include reefs, features related to volcanoes or things required as part of certain animal habitats.

When students have finished creating their island, they can map it. They may like to think about creating coordinates to help them map it or think about what mapping symbols they might use in their map. They can use measurement tools and talk about how big the island might be if it was twice as big or ten times as big. The creation of a map can lead to discussion of historical explorers and surveyors and what methods they used to create charts and maps as well as the work of modern surveyors. (One example of a historical surveyor is Matthew Flinders who circumnavigated the coast of Australia).

 

Tie it back to Nim's Island - How would Jack and Nim map their own island? How would Jack have known that it was the right island for them to live on? What features made it liveable?

Stuck Inside the Classroom? Create a miniature island using clay or paper or found objects. Draw a map of the miniature island, striving to keep it as accurate as possible. 

Create an Island - Explore this and three other outside learning activities inspired by Nim's Island by Wendy Orr. Find more at Galarious Goods
 

 

2. Observe Nature

(Teaching areas: science and art)

For this activity students might like to use paper, pencils, pens, clipboards, magnifying glasses, cameras, reference books and collecting containers - or a combination of those! A garden or nearby park is also helpful

Take your students outside to observe the environment around them. They might like to take a close up look at trees in the school grounds or see what kind of insects or birds (or possibly bigger animals!). Students can simply observe, use magnifying glasses to take a closer look, take photographs or videos of things they find to investigate further later, draw or take notes about what they see or collect specimens to investigate or display. They can discuss what impacts humans have on the local environment, look at some of the techniques used by botanists or biologists and refer to reference books to find out more about their discoveries. 

Students can also take the time to sketch what they see when they are outside. They might like to create a drawing using the colours they see, draw a landscape or still life using nature as inspiration or investigate with the patterns they find in nature.

 

Tie it back to Nim's Island - Jack is a scientist and Nim helps him. What scientific methods and skills do we see in Nim's Island? 

Stuck inside the classroom? Break out the reference books, show documentary videos about nature and the work scientists do or bring some specimens in from outside for your students to explore and draw.

Observe Nature - Explore this and three other outside learning activities inspired by Nim's Island by Wendy Orr. Find more at Galarious Goods
 

 

3. Nim's Island Obstacle Course

(Teaching areas: physical education, reading, problem solving, design)

For this activity you might need a range of physical education or games equipment as well as space and pencils, paper and clipboard for brainstorming or recording ideas.

Challenge your students to create an obstacle course covering the key events from Nim's Island. Students may like to start by making a list of those events, then thinking about what kind of movements, activities or interaction with equipment would best suit those events. They might work in small groups on different parts of the obstacle course, then come together to test it, or work collaboratively from the beginning. 

Students should think about how to lay out their obstacle course, which order it should be completed in and could reflect on how they would improve it if they had no limits on equipment. They might like to take pictures of different elements or create diagrams with instructions for participants.

 

Tie it back to Nim's Island - What do we know about Nim's health? What healthy habits does she have?

Stuck inside the classroom? See if you can source a hall or gymnasium and include more gentle movements. Or look for smaller movements which can be completed in the classroom, create a 'Nim's Island fitness circuit' and video the movements for participants. Students may like to use the videos to create a website or virtual classroom linking their fitness circuit back to the events in the book. 
Or - if you have access to robotics, create a Nim's Island inspired robotic course . . .  

Create an Obstacle Course - Explore this and three other outside learning activities inspired by Nim's Island by Wendy Orr. Find more at Galarious Goods
 

 

4. Writing Outside

(Teaching area - writing)

For this activity, students just need a clipboard, paper and a pen or pencil as well as somewhere comfortable to sit.

A change in environment can be great inspiration for writers. Take your students outside and ask them to use their senses to be inspired to write something. They might like to explore poetry, fiction, a biographical piece about being outside or a report. Or you might like to offer some additional writing prompts or parameters. This can be followed up with a lesson back inside the classroom where students write pieces inspired by their classroom and compare their writing from both locations.

 

Tie it back to Nim's Island - How did Alex find inspiration and research information for her books? How would it have been different if she'd visited different locations around the world?

Stuck inside the classroom? Fill the classroom with outside prompts - videos, audio, items. You can get creative with this and choose different types of 'outside' (beach, forest, field, desert) or just look outside the classroom door.

Writing Outside - Explore this and three other outside learning activities inspired by Nim's Island by Wendy Orr. Find more at Galarious Goods
 
 
 

Addressing Controversial Topics in the Classroom

There's been a fair amount of media attention lately about whether teachers should discuss controversial topics in the classroom - and whether they should bring their own opinions into it. The intensity of the media focus can make teachers feel like they should avoid those topics altogether. However, sometimes those topics are unavoidable and many times those discussions are invaluable. The key to successfully discussing controversial or difficult topics is using tactics and guidelines which make it safe and useful for everyone involved - including you as the teacher.

 
 

1. Create a Caring, Compassionate Classroom

A classroom environment which promotes care and compassion for each other will make it easier when you approach difficult topics. It's easier for students to express different views and be open to listening to each other when they are being mindful of each other. 

2. Let Parents Know What's Happening (When You Can)

Although some topics come up because of something on the news or because a student introduces it through a question or statement, other topics are part of the curriculum or planned lessons. Keeping parents and caregivers in touch with what is happening in the classroom (whether it is controversial or not) allows them to have a full understanding of the situation, rather than getting bits and pieces home through their children or the work in their books. It also establishes trust between you and them and is generally good practice.

3. Set Guidelines for Discussions

Having strong guidelines for discussions allows students to express themselves in a safe place. When students know what is and what isn't acceptable, they learn to consider their thoughts and frame them in a way which is less likely to cause harm to others. They may not always get it right - learning to say things in a considered way is something that even adults can struggle with! - but with time and consistency it will become easier for them. Guidelines can also apply to listening.

4. Encourage Students to Collect Both Facts and Opinions - And to Know the Difference Between Them

It can be very easy for discussions to become very opinion focused, but by encouraging students to collect facts - and opinions from other people - you can create a broader, more informed discussion. In a discussion on refugees, for example, students might research opinions from politicians, academics and activists. They might also look at the reasons why there are refugees and the movement of refugees throughout history. Historical opinions could also be discussed. The more students know, question and discuss, the more informed and thoughtful their own opinions will be.

5. It's OK to Have A View. It's OK to Share It. It's OK Not to Share It.

Some commentators believe that teachers shouldn't have a view on anything and should just 'get back to the teaching!' But that's not necessarily fair on students who should be exposed to a range of views from the people in their lives - including teachers - and should be able to see how people develop their views. By letting students know what your view is, and how you came to that point of view, you're providing them with more information as they make their way through their decision making processes to developing their own views. 

It's also ok not to share your view. Sometimes it's not relevant or asked for. Sometimes you need to protect yourself. Sometimes you need to give the space to your students instead.

6. Protect Yourself

Unfortunately, some people thrive on controversy and they're only too happy to 'report' a controversial discussion to your administration, district, or worse - the media. Many times they do not have the full story and it can be a scramble to make sure that you and your actions are protected.

If a controversial discussion happens or topic comes up, it can be worthwhile to let your administration know. It lets them be prepared if someone approaches them and leaves them in a better position to assist you. It's also worth keeping notes in your planner or diary to refer back to if required.

If lessons around a controversial issue are planned, it might be worth working with another teacher to deliver material to the classes together. Having another informed adult working on the same material (or even in the same classroom) can let people outside the classroom know that this is a planned, organised event - not you just sharing your opinions willy nilly.

Finally, if you're in the position to join a teachers union, they're well worth joining. Many are created to look after your rights in the workforce, including your rights to teach material others might find controversial. Unions become stronger with their members, and many have other benefits beyond the protection element.

The Boy Overboard Whole Novel Study allows students to look at how an author has presented a sometimes controversial subject. You can find it, along with more Boy Overboard resources at the Galarious Goods shop.

 
 
 
 

Where Do We Find Persuasive Writing?

Understanding persuasive writing is a key skill for students - whether they're reading it or writing it. But where, in the real world, are they likely to come across it?

 
 

Advertising

The most common place we see persuasive writing is in advertising. Sometimes it's the short text of a television advertisement, telling us how much better our lives will be if we buy a particular product. Other times it might be the lengthier 'advertorials' - ads disguised as article - in newspapers or magazines.

Most advertisements focus on one side of the story only. They often don't acknowledge similar products and they only talk up the positives. They have a very strong agenda - to convince customers to buy their product.

 
 

Political Speeches

Like advertising, political speeches are selling something. However, instead of selling a product, they're selling a politician or political party or a policy they want people to approve of. Political speeches might acknowledge different points of view, but they will usually work to explain why their point of view is the best. Some political speeches will be followed by questions or a press conference - politicians end up constantly speaking in persuasive language.

 
 

Opinion Pieces

Traditionally opinion pieces were published in a paper form. In the past they might be as published leaflets or as letters to the editor. Newspapers often devoted particular spaces to commentary writers who would use their writing to express certain points of view. 

These days, a lot of opinion writing happens on blogs. Everyone is able to share their opinions through the internet, and a lot of people use that to create persuasive arguments about things they're passionate about - like politics, educational theory, best sports team or why someone should read a particular book.

 
 

Looking at persuasive writing with your students? Challenge them to find different pieces of persuasive writing in their world. How do the authors persuade the audience? What skills can they use in their own writing?

Want to bring more persuasive arguments into the classroom? Pick up the Persuasive Argument bundle at the Galarious Goods shop. Or, prepare for Christmas with the Australian Christmas Persuasive Writing Pack.

 
 
 
 

Three Connections to The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice #1)

Although The Ruins of Gorlan is set in a fictional world, there's still many connections to real world history and topics. Those connections are just waiting for you to explore in the classroom.

 
3 Connections to the Ruins of Gorlan. A look at different topics you can explore in relation to the first Ranger's Apprentice book by John Flanagan. A Galarious Goods blog post
 

Medieval History

The world of the Ranger's Apprentice books is a rather modern version of medieval history. Conditions are a lot cleaner and nicer for our characters, but there are castles, fiefdoms, barons and knights and lots of connections to European medieval history.

Students can spend some time reading up on medieval history. They may like to research historical documents and images or they might like to spend some time reading medieval historical fiction (you can find some here or here). This allows for comparisons, for students to discuss why the author may have chosen a medieval setting and discussions about how realistic the world of the Ranger's Apprentice is.

Spies in History

One of the roles of the Rangers is to act as spies for the King. There's a rich history of spies throughout history and it's a topic students can definitely get their teeth into. Students might like to look at why spies are required, who some of the famous spies are and what impact they've had on historical events. They could look at how spies work and spies who work during war time. There's also many middle grades and young adult books on spies which can be connected to The Ruins of Gorlan.

Archery

As an apprentice Ranger, Will learns archery and is expected to become an expert with the bow and arrow. Archery is an activity which developed to allow people to hunt for food before becoming a weapon and, in modern times, a sport. Students can learn how archery works and where it appears in other books and media. Through archery you can also connect The Ruins of Gorlan to physical educations - you may be lucky to allow the students to experience archery or you could look at some accuracy and strength drills - and STEM - creating a bow, looking at forces, looking at records from archery competitions, examining how bows and arrows have developed over history.

 
3 Connections to the Ruins of Gorlan. A look at different topics you can explore in relation to the first Ranger's Apprentice book by John Flanagan. A Galarious Goods blog post