Desert Island Books: Abi Elphinstone

DIBHello! Welcome back to #DesertIslandBooks

Today the inhabitant of our island is one of my favourite authors. She is probably one of the people I know who could get off this island alive! She would survive! I can guarantee it! Today’s post comes courtesy of the gorgeous Abi Elphinstone! 

If you don’t know Abi, then why don’t you?! Her books are incredible! She’s a brilliant human and now she’s a mother! I can’t wait to meet Baby Elph! Check out her books below!

Abi Elphinstone Facebook Banner

Anyway… the rules

DIB rules

Books

  1. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  2. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
  3. The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice
  4. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  5. Mill on the Floss by George Elliot
  6. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Snack: White chocolate chip cookies (with squidgy centres).

Tea/coffee: Am I allowed unlimited banana milkshakes instead?! I’ve never tried tea or coffee – I used to hate the smell of both as a child and somehow never got round to trying them as an adult.

(Of course you can Abi!)

Music: I’d take the following playlist:

  • Flying by James Newton Howard (from the most recent Peter Pan movie)
  • Aslan’s Theme by Geoffrey Burgon (from the BBC Narnia series)
  • Septimus by Ilan Eskkeri (from the movie Stardust)
  • Waves by Ludovico Einaudi
  • I’ve Come Home (from the movie Spirit)
  • Spark Inside Us (from movie The Princess and the Goblin)
  • Storybook Love by Mark Knopfler (from the movie The Princess Bride)
  • Reckoning Song by Wankelmut
  • Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

When the police arrive

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Aslan’s Theme by Geoffrey Burgon (from the BBC Narnia series) 

Thank you so much Abi for agreeing to be castaway! Come back on Thursday to see who is flown away to the island!

S x

Bio

Abi ElphinAbi 1 Norwaystone grew up in Scotland where she spent most of her childhood building dens, hiding in tree houses and running wild across highland glens. After being coaxed out of her tree house, she studied English at Bristol University and then worked as a teacher. She is the author of THE DREAMSNATCHER, THE SHADOW KEEPER and THE NIGHT SPINNER. When she’s not writing, Abi volunteers for Beanstalk charity, speaks in schools and travels the world looking for her next story.

Author website: http://www.abielphinstone.com
Twitter: @moontrug
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/abi.elphinstone
Instagram: @moontrugger

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SCITT update – week 3

It’s Monday again! As this post goes live, I am back in school, after 2.5 weeks of training at university and the training centre who are running my SCITT. If I’m being honest I COULDN’T WAIT TO GET BACK TO SCHOOL. My block training weeks were incredible and intense and overwhelming – I learned a lot and reflected a lot – but being in school is totally where my happy place lies! 

So what did last week have in store?

Monday
On Monday we were at a local 3-19 school for an EAL (English as an Additional Language) conference all day. There were some intense parts of the day, in particular when we were learning about the safeguarding of some minority groups, but overall it was informative. A few of the students from Year 10 came and performed a powerful drama piece titled ‘Colourblind’, which was thought-provoking. 

Tuesday
Tuesday took us back to one of the local primary schools for Day 2 of Teaching and Learning. Having had all of my experience in the same school, I love being able to observe how life runs in other schools. We had the chance to observe a phonics session and then a reading session within the year group we are having our first placement in. Those observations were both really interesting and I definitely magpie’d a few ideas from them! We also got to plan a science activity based on our year groups and then 2 of the group got to deliver it while the rest of us watched on! 

Wednesday
Seeing new schools totally different to my school is always an interesting part of this and on Wednesday we visited a school in the middle of the countryside. Our focus of the day was SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) and I took a lot away from the day to think about and consider in my own practice. 

Thursday
Thursday was another university day (I am officially a student at Newcastle University, I know, how fancy am I!?). We were set up in a very posh, technologically forward room (there were boards EVERYWHERE, I loved it) and spent the day looking at pedagogy and the importance of subject knowledge. Thursday’s session definitely calmed my nerves about our first PGCE assignment, which is brilliant. 

Friday
On Friday, we were back in our training centre and the focus of the day was training standards and looking at evidence collection and what we can use as evidence. It was very useful to do BEFORE we started collecting evidence. The gentleman delivering our session was very funny too!

How am I feeling in 3 words?
Calmer. Eager. Tired. 

I look forward to the challenges this week holds!

Remember, if you have any questions I am more than happy to answer them! 

S xx

Operation Clean Up – blog tour

Hello! 

Today I have the absolute joy of being part of the ‘Operation Clean Up‘ blog tour! I think I am even kicking it off! How exciting! I am hosting the gorgeous author, Jason Tucker, and he is sharing his thoughts on something very close to my own heart – the importance of bed time stories. Being a teacher, I know the massive impact reading to your kids and with your kids can have! But without further ado…

Operation Clean Up Day Cover

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I did not realize how important a simple bed time story actually is until I started to see the impact for myself… I mean this for both the parent and the child. Believe me it really is fascinating.  I generally worked long hours and didn’t / don’t get home until late in the evening, I have 3 small boys (6, 4 and 1 years old each) and it’s my superstar wife who did the majority of the reading to our children, however seeing the impact early on pushed me to not only change my routine and read to them on a regular basis, but to also do it with a real passion and get them loving it too – here are my main reasons why it’s so important:

Nurturing the imagination: I like to read cool / picturesque stories that basically contribute to developing / widening my boy’s imagination, this for me is unbelievably important. This is what inspired me to write my book and explore the wild imagination of a young child. When reading a bed time story together we like to explore all types of books and the pictures within, and sometimes they develop almost a story within a story, its limitless how far this can go and a real positive to watch.  To widen the imagination means that you are developing an open mind from an early young age, and with an open mind you can achieve anything! Which I tell them at every opportunity.

Development of reading skills: Part of the whole bed time experience is getting my boys read to me as well, they may be a bit tired on occasion and take longer, but when a short story is read its basically an item achieved and I am full of praise for them, letting them know that they have read an ‘entire’ book… Giving it a Big WOW factor! Following up with ‘well done’ and ‘didn’t you do well’. The other piece is when they sometimes struggle with a certain word, I normally get that look which says ‘help’, then help is given… and when that word has come up again at a later point, and has been remembered and read out again correctly, I then get given that look of ‘I did it’… A small passing moment maybe, but priceless in the big scheme of things.

More Learning:  Apart from cool and imaginative stories, we also use bed time story reading time now and again to read some of the more educational books out there – I love being able to teach my kids things, and bedtime reading is another opportunity where I can do this. A big one for us is the Planets and the Universe, and Nature orientated books (animal kingdom etc.)… We read together, we name the planets, we identify the Rhino from the Elephant and they have then learnt something fun and real outside of their school environment.  Then they ask me ‘Daddy – you should write a book about that too J’

Confidence boosting: I’m fairly sure reading contributes to increasing confidence, my eldest was a very shy boy for a long while but at bedtime I think he absorbed reading in a different way as he was in a more relaxed environment without any real pressure – he now reads and asks questions and on a daily basis almost knows all sorts of new things and can explain things in detail to others in his age group. A number of things contribute to this I know but as knowledge grows, so does there confidence.

Removing Tech: Anything that keeps an IPad or tablet out of their hands is a plus point for me – Now don’t get me wrong the tablets and games on these have their place and can be life savers at times, but the traditional page turning of parent and child nighttime read has its own special moment and positive warm feel that cannot be outdone which leads me onto my final point. 

Quality time – Finally the most important and most essential item for me.  I have been extremely lousy in the past with not carrying out my fair share of reading to my kids at bed time (due to working late and other supposedly important things) . However the time spent with my boys reading is where some of those real memories are created (at least for me). These are the things I want to remember, and also want them to remember in later life, those fun bedtime stories with Daddy – not that Power point presentation Daddy had to work late on for his Client!! We’ve all got to remember that life goes by rapidly and that everything is just a buildup of moments and experiences, the great thing is we can choose what those are!

Thanks and I hope that you all enjoy my book.

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Operation Clean Up Day

This is the story of two very imaginative little boys and their resistance to cleaning up their toys…

Two little boys are about to go out for the day to the swimming pool as a treat. But before they can go, they must tidy up all their toys – which are all over the house – as requested by their Mummy. The boys consider this a mission! The boys attempt to clean up their toys in various parts of the house while making all sorts of excuses to Mummy to leave the toys where they are. The boys are easily side-tracked when attempting to clean up each room, as they find themselves playing with their toys again, their imaginations taking over. They find themselves driving trains, defending castles from ogres, climbing high mountains, flying spaceships, catching sea serpents and meeting prehistoric dinosaurs. All while trying to clean up their toys!

Written by Jason Tucker and stunningly illustrated by Nick Roberts, Operation Clean Up Day is a fantastic journey through the imagination of two children, who can turn a simple set of toys into an entire fantasy world, whilst teaching children the valuable lesson of tidying up their toys after playtime!

Amazon UK – click to buy
Barnes & Noble – click to buy

About the author: Born and raised in London, Jason Tucker is married and is a father of three young boys. He is enjoying an international working life basing himself between London and Dubai. This is his first published work with a number of other titles in the pipeline as well as working on a number of other ventures including TV, Film & graphic novels.

Check out the rest of the blog tour below! I can’t wait to see what else is in store!

OperationCleanUpDay_Banner

SixForSunday: You Join In!

Hello!
So… I am inviting you all to join in #SixforSunday by giving ALL of the themes for the rest of the Sundays until the end of the year! (Of course if you want to do your own theme, then feel free! This is just the list I will be posting!) I would love to see you joining in! If you do decide to join in, remember to use the hashtag #SixforSunday and link me up! I love #SixforSunday posts, they make me so happy! 

So here we go, here’s the prompts (remember, this is what I’ll be posting, you can follow my lead or choose any of the prompts you feel!)

Oct 1 – Favourite fictional lands
Oct 8 – Favourite genres
Oct 15 – Books from TBR
Oct 22 – Books that make me cry/sad
Oct 29 – Scary books (to fit in with Halloween!)

5 Nov – Diverse books
12 Nov – War books 
19 Nov – Books with a colour in the title
26 Nov – Books with a number in the title

3 Dec – Favourite children’s books about winter
10 Dec – Favourite books about Winter
17 Dec – Books from 2017 you’d recommend
24 Dec – Favourite Christmas books
31 Dec – 2018 books you’re excited for

Remember the only stipulation is your can ONLY CHOOSE 6 BOOKS

You can choose to do your favourite books of the prompt, 6 books that you haven’t read of the prompt… whatever you choose! 

GO.
BLOG.

Remember the hashtag! #SixForSunday

S x

 

Little People, Big Dreams

In the Little People, Big Dreams series, you can discover the lives of outstanding people from designers and artists to scientists. All of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. There are some incredible lives pictured in this series and I was very lucky that the people at Quarto sent me over the Audrey Hepburn, Rosa Parks and Emmeline Pankhurst editions to have a look at. I had initially saw these beautiful books on BookBairn’s instagram and was VERY curious about them!

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Each book tells the story of the life of this amazing person. They are beautifully illustrated and are PERFECT to use with children. At the back of each edition there is a timeline of the person’s life, with real pictures!

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Books like this are so important as they make incredible life stories accessible to children. 

The Rosa Parks edition and the Emmeline Pankhurst book are going to be so brilliant for use in school to teach the children about amazing women who paved the way for some of the most important changes in the world. 

I am so happy this series exists and I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the series! I know this is definitely a series that I will have in my collection! They’re perfect for the classroom and any little people you may have running around! I will be sharing these with the kids at school and my goddaughters, to teach them about important women who have come before them! 

If you’d like to see who else is included in this series so far, the whole collection is on the Quarto website – click here to find out more. I definitely want the ones I don’t have yet! 

Have you read any of the ‘Little People, Big Dreams’ books?
Are there any incredible women you would like to see included?
What is your “big dream”?

Thank you so much to Quarto for sending me these books. I absolutely love them! 

S x

Look for Ladybird

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A recent trend in books is ‘search and find’ books and ‘Look for Ladybird in Plant City’ is a brilliant example of these gorgeous books. 

Look for Ladybird tells the story of Basil and Daisy who are looking for Ladybird in Plant City. This book is a brilliant fusion of story and search and find! Basil and Daisy are a rabbit and a lizard who have lost their friend Ladybird! The story takes you through the entire city and you get to see all of the other animals who live in Plant City and what they all get up to. My particular favourite page is The Museum page! There are incredible things to spot on every page though! 

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The thing that struck me about this book is the incredibly vibrant illustrations. You flick through the book and are met with beautifully illustrated pages one after another. Going through the story you meet amazing new characters and have to use incredible search powers to find the things in the story! (Some of them even passed me by!) Another brilliant thing about this book is there’s an answers page at the back! Brilliant for those who like to “bend the rules” and those who like to make sure they’re right! I know the answers page would go down well if kids worked in pairs to find the things: one could search and one could check.

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The things you have to look for in this story are the things which are in capital letters throughout the text – this is a lovely way to point out what needs to be sought. 

Thank you to the lovely people of Quarto for sending me this book! It will go down very well at school! I certainly love it! 

S x

 

Desert Island Books: thisnortherngal

DIB

Welcome back to #DesertIslandBooks! Today’s unlucky inhabitant of the desert island is my lovely friend Kelly! 

DIB rules

It was certainly a hard choice packing for a trip with DesertJet, what with all those pesky luggage restrictions and the like. After much to-ing and fro-ing, I’ve just about got my suitcase closed. Tucked away inside, you’ll find the following books:
– Dracula by Bram Stoker
-The Assassins Blade by Sarah J Maas
– The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon
– Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
– The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

And last but not least, I would pack Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I might finally suffer through it if I’m trapped on an island with little else to do. Since I love Anne and Emily, I feel like I should give the third sister one last shot.

Nestled amongst them, you will also find the world’s largest box of Yorkshire Tea and plenty of chips and gravy. I’m hoping that counts as a snack. It must surely. If not, I guess DesertJet will confiscate it and I’ll have to stock up on Dairy Milk with Crunchie at the airport. 

My trusty iphone will be limited to the Barton Hollow album by The Civil Wars, since it is my ultimate reading soundtrack.

If the police come along, I’ll snatch Ella Enchanted from the pile and clutch it to my chest since it is my most nostalgic and comforting book. I’ll listen to Poison & Wine on repeat while I try really hard not to freak out that the police are here.

Thank you so much to Kelly for agreeing to this tough task! Go follow her on twitter: followollowollow.

S x

BOOKBLOG: Lauren James

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe: a gripping, unique heart-racer

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“Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away? 
Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .”

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe (I’m going to call it Loneliest Girl in this blog, because well it’s a LONG title!) tells the story of Romy, who is the captain of a ship on its way to a new planet, with hopes to make it hospitable. She’s all alone on this rocket, with only audio/email messages coming from her therapist Molly. Something changes and suddenly there’s a mysterious stranger on the scene. This stranger is J, the captain of another ship, and Romy quickly finds herself falling for this mysterious stranger. When things start becoming a bit suspect, Romy discovers that J isn’t quite who he says he is…

I had seen SO MUCH about this book on twitter! Everyone was talking about it. I was SO ENVIOUS of all of the people who had advance copies. I needed to get my hands on it. I was elated when I heard they would be selling them at YALC. When it came to YALC, Kelly and I rushed to buy a copy (because we were afraid they’d run out of copies!) just to be sure we would get one. It has sat on my shelf since YALC but I was determined to read it before we did a SundayYA chat about it. AND READ IT BEFORE SUNDAYYA I DID. It took me all of about 4 hours to read. It is THAT GOOD. It’s so readable. Gripping. The kind of book that takes you by surprise (it certainly took me by surprise!) 

This book is very character centric and luckily for me, I loved the characters. Romy (the main character) and her story were very well written. The flashbacks of her memories growing up, her memories of the rocket were gorgeous to see. Her parents are very important to herboth in very different ways – I loved her relationship with her dad. Her relationship with her mam kept me very curious. The other character in the space world in Loneliest Girl is J: mysterious, handsome, seemingly perfect. Romy definitely falls for him fast. Her trust of him pulled the wool over my eyes. I didn’t like him from the start… there was something about him I didn’t trust. He was too convenient. He was the perfect, most sinister, creepy baddie though. He adds a brilliantly sinister dynamic to this book. Definitely kept me on my toes. 

I would recommend this book to EVERYONE. It is one of those that would appeal to SO MANY PEOPLE. It’s so clever and devious and delicious. I’m curious about the rest of the author’s work now… if they’re all this good I need to get them NOW (well, when September is over cause y’know book buying ban and all that!)

Have you read Loneliest Girl?
What did you make of J?
Do you think you’d cope with Romy’s life?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter! I’d love to talk about this book! 

S xx

Desert Island Books: rosiefreckle

DIB

Welcome back to #DesertIslandBooks! Today it’s the turn of my lovely friend Rosie! She’s our castaway of the day. Check out the rules and Rosie’s choices below! 

DIB rules

My six books are:

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
The Tales of Beedle The Bard
Another Place by Matthew Crow
Less Than Zero by Brett Easton Ellis

Snack = candyfloss grapes!

Unlimited tea please! 

I’d Bring Busted’s new album, Night Driver

When the police come I’ll keep Brave New World and Those Days Are Gone from the CD.

It works in my favour that I get a Shakespeare full works, I love Shakespeare!!

(I have only read 1 of Rosie’s choices! I best get them on my to borrow/buy list!)

Thank you so much Rosie for agreeing to go to my island! Go follow Rosie on twitter: followwwwww.

Check back on Thursday for more victims! 

S xx

SCITT: 2 weeks down!

Last week was week 2 of my SCITT training (teacher training) and since my SCITT: how did week 1 go?! post went down so well, I figured I would keep blogging tell you all tell me you either don’t care or don’t want to read about it! Ha!

Monday
Monday was spent looking over the teacher’s standards and thinking about what motivates us to want to be teachers. For me it’s easy: I want to be a teacher because I want to make a difference. It’s a cliche but it’s true. I want to make a difference. We spent time looking at the ethos and mission statements of schools. It was an interesting day – but a lot to take in, especially when it came to the standards. That’s going to be an ongoing theme of my year, I can sense.

Tuesday
On Tuesday, we weren’t in our usual setting! We were based in a lovely little first school out in the countryside. It was about half an hour’s drive away and I got a lift from one of my lovely SCITT friends. I have to say, one of my favourite things about this process so far is getting to see all of the different schools around! I’d spend my year visiting all the schools I could get to! We spent the day looking at different learning styles and how these impact on the way we plan and deliver lessons. Another lovely thing was talking about a little activity called ‘I Wish My Teacher Knew’, which I have actually done before! (If you’re interested in what my kids told me: I Wish My Teacher Knew…). I really enjoyed Tuesday as we got to plan a short activity and do it with a group of children. I’ve really missed being in the classroom so it was great for me to finally be doing again. We had to use a painting as our stimulus and plan an activity around that: our activity was a bit of drama in the jungle using the picture below as stimulus. 

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Wednesday
On Wednesday, we were in a different primary school looking at literacy: reading in particular. We looked at what it means to be literate, what the curriculum specifies around reading and how to foster a rich curriculum centred around books. We spent some time choosing a book and then planning a focus for what we would want the children to learn using that book. (I naturally pilfered ‘The Building Boy’ by Ross Montgomery and David Litchfield, BECAUSE IT IS WONDERFUL and I will most definitely be using it when I have my own class). We got to go around the KS2 classes and do very quick observations too! There were shout outs for Literacy Shed, Once upon a Picture (which I am a MASSIVE fan of and use on the regular) and amazing kids lit authors too! (This made my heart so happy)

Thursday
Thursday was induction day at Newcastle University – who will be supporting us on our PGCE side of the qualification. Thursday was intense and a LOT to take in. There was a lot of information thrown at us – assignments etc. We had a very interesting workshop with people from Dove about their self esteem resources (happy to share links if you’re interested) which I will be looking at and using! 

Friday
On Friday we were based in the 3rd different school of the week! The focus of our day was Maths. We spent some time looking at the curriculum objectives and how to plot out a sequence of lessons. There was the chance to observe a whole maths lesson on the Friday too, so I spent the lesson in Year 6 – it was really interesting seeing how other people do it! There were definitely ideas to magpie from that teacher. We spent the afternoon looking at calculation policies and seeing the progression through the school.

So how am I feeling?
Last week I was worried and overwhelmed… this week I’m exhausted and still overwhelmed but I am just ready to get back into the classroom. I miss school a lot. It’s lovely doing more learning myself and I look forward to the week ahead! Next week brings block training week 2. We’re at an EAL conference in the coming week, which should be informative and interesting!  

Let me know if you have any questions! I am happy to answer them!

S x