Category Archives: how to make stuff

Getting in the Christmas spirit!


With our school year finishing in 1 1/2 weeks, we have started to put out Christmas books for the kids to borrow. So I thought I would see what I could find in terms of Christmas resources to share.

If I end up having enough time, I put on ‘The Polar Express’ movie for our last library lesson (or 2). I just love the story, even though it is set when there is snow and cold, the opposite of here…although it has been a bit cold lately! Typical Melbourne weather!

This is my favorite scene.


Plus I love ‘How the The Grinch Stole Christmas’ cartoon version, as the Jim Carrey one is PG, which we can’t show without parental permission. And it gives you a chance to highlight Dr Seuss books, always a winner.


Here are a couple of Christmas theme short videos..

one about how pleasurable it is to give gifts to others (rather than focus on me, me, me, which Christmas can be for children)

And this most amazing one – The Sugar Plum Fairy by Tchaikovsky played on the top of glasses!

I have decided to do 1 more post this year and then have a break until late January 2015, when I resume back at work.



Book trailers – a great way to hook readers into books


Book trailers – showing and creating your own, or letting your students make them is a succinct way of letting readers know what the featured book is about and why they should read it. There are many great and some not-so great examples of book trailers on YouTube. There are even children’s book publishers that have entire channels on YouTube devoted to book trailers of their books.

A very popular series at school and this trailer gives the flavour of the series. But usually whne I am creating book trailers with students, we work out that about 1 minute is the optimal length. At over 2 minutes, this one is a bit long.

This is one of the best book trailers that I have seen. It captures the atmosphere of tension and horror of this book – really gets you in!!!

This trailer’s narration, image and soundtrack combination makes it just like a movie trailer.

Picture books are ironically quite tricky to make trailers for, as the simpler the storyline, the more difficult it is to distill its essence. In this book trailer, they have played with the plot from the book. In the book, the reader is looking for the green sheep. In the trailer, the green sheep is looking for the books’ author, Mem Fox.

Creating book trailers with students is another thing altogether. When I have got a class involved in this in the past, the first thing you do is watch lots of book trailers and create your own rubric as to what makes a good book trailer – one that ‘hooks’ you in, is the way we explain it. Is it the images, the soundtrack, voices, colours, speed of transition from one image to another, choice of image that makes the biggest impact. Why? is it different for different people? Then students start creating by drawing up a storyboard so they think through their trailer before they start making it. This is particularly important when you are working in a team – there must be a shared vision, otherwise there will be no end product. Then they can begin the process. It is interesting to see all the many ways that a ‘book hook’ can be created – some are fantastic, others pretty ordinary. But the process is an important part and going through the steps leads you closer to making your own book trailer.

The Kid Should See This – an amazing blog!


I loved the reason this website is put together. Its a Kid-friendly. STEAM-focused. Not-made-for-kids, but perfect for them. Watch the best videos on the internet with your kids, curated by Rion Nakaya with her 3 & 5 year olds. Videos cover an amazing range of topics from SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, SPACE, ANIMALS, FOOD, DIY, MUSIC, ART […]