The intelligence of crows

Students in Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 have been studying the Aboriginal Dreaming Story of “How the birds got their colours”. This week, they are investigating birds. Our playground is currently well-populated with large crows (or ravens?) and the students have been enjoying (or being blamed for) their hilarious antics: tossing scraps out of the bins, stealing shiny rocks from a memorial garden, and frog-marching pigeons out of the playground.

I found some fascinating Youtube videos that demonstrate the intelligence of crows, as they complete an exercise involving a three-step plan, and then an eight-step plan.


Crow intelligence – multi-step tool action test


Are crows the ultimate problem solvers? – Inside the animal mind – BBC


Smart crow uses cars to crack nuts in Akita, Japan near Senshu Park

Remember Aesop’s fable of “The crow and the pitcher”?

Causal understanding of water displacement by a crow

The man, the boy and the donkey revisited

Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 students have been investigating the Aesop fable, The man, the boy and the donkey. (Previously, we used the following Youtube links.)


The farmer, his son and his donkey – Aesop’s fables – animated/cartoon tales for kids


The man the boy and the donkey || short story for kids

From there, the students have begun looking at factual information about donkeys, especially as to how they were once used prolifically as a working animal, for transportation, carrying heavy loads. In many places of the world, donkeys have been replaced by technology: shopping trolleys, tractors, cars, trains, etc.


Braying donkey


Pets 101- Mini donkeys


Moose the donkey needs a job | Farm raised with P. Allen Smith


Sustainable transport in Ethiopia – The Donkey Sanctuary


Kids Short Stories | The Donkey’s Burden

Frogs and their life cycle


Aesop: biography of a great thinker

Following their investigations into variations on Aesop’s fable of The exploding frog (aka The bull and the bullfrog, aka The frog and the ox), plus Sally Murphy & Simon Bosch’s picture book, The floatingest frog, students in Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 are learning about factual information on frogs in science & technology.

Creating digital stories for PMBW TLs

My workshop: This session will look at how to make book trailers and their use in engaging students in literacy and reading activities. Applications used to make trailers will be looked at and discussed, also how they can be used as a resource in a school library and in classrooms and how they can help promote literacy and reading. Ways to engage students in these resources to augment their learning experiences will be modeled and discussed.

* Brainstorming (using Circle Time) – consider audience, theme, length, 30 images
* Storyboarding (using a book rap template) – small groups
* Will you use photos (“Creative Commons”), drawings, cutouts, puppets, toys, claymation, or actors in dress-up box clothing?
* Upload – to Photo Peach or other Web 2.0 facility – Flickr slideshow, PowerPoint/Keynote, podcast/Youtube, IWB Notebook software?
* Edit, adjust timing to the selected music
* Share with wider community – monitor incoming public comments regularly, or close them off.

* Rap resources (NSW DEC) for making digital stories and book trailers

* Bear and Chook PowerPoints

* Flickr slideshow repositories – and with captions added or Explore Creative Commons

* Commercial book trailers on Youtube, eg:


In the lion book trailerJames Foley

* This year’s CBCA Book Week theme is: “Read across the universe”. A starting point?

Further reading (articles by Ian McLean):

* ‘iInquire… iLearn… iCreate… iShare: Stage 1 students create digital stories’ in Scan 30(2) May 2011, pp 4-5.
Stage 1 students narrate how they inquire, learn, create and share with ICT and Web 2.0 to produce online Photo Peach slideshows at Penrith Public School. View the article online HERE.

* ‘Have blog, will storyboard!’ in info@aslansw Issue #2, May 2010, pp 5-8.
Stage 2 students at Penrith Public School created storyboards and PowerPoint digital stories as resources to support Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 students working on the Bear and Chook books rap, which ran during the subsequent term.

* ‘Circle time: maximising opportunities for talking and listening at Penrith Public School’ in Scan 26(4) November 2007, pp 4-7.
Circle Time is a structured framework for social and emotional learning which promotes a positive class ethos. Moving from class teacher back into the school library, I incorporated Circle Time and information skills into a range of collaborative literacy and ICT activities, including book raps.

When I presented the above worksop at a MANTLE conference, earlier this year, members of the audience suggested a few possible captions, in keeping with Book Week’s “Read Across the Universe” theme, and my intention was to get the Stage 3 students, back at school, to complete the brainstorming of the rest of the captions during Book Week. As the events of that week overwhelmed us, I filed away the groups’ A3 planning sheets, but dug them out again this week – and was thrilled with their results. A reminder to those on iPads: the latest version of Flash is required, so you’ll need to use a regular computer to see Photo Peach slideshows.

As promised, here is the finished slideshow:


Read across the universe by 5/6E

and an additional set of bookish/SF images that got the students’ conversations going:


Book Week 2013

By the way, we found “Robot jokes” during a Google search:
boyslife.org/about-scouts/merit-badge-resources/robotics/19223/robot-jokes/

and we were surprised to find that there are interactive “Yoda speech generator” sites (it started out as a joke that there might be one – and there were several!), such as:
www.yodaspeak.co.uk/

More fables: The magic fish and The town mouse & the country mouse

Stage 1 and Early Stage 1 students are studying fables this term. These Youtube videos will support the reading.

The magic fish, or The fisherman and his wife, is often categorised as a Grimm’s fairy tale, but it also has an obvious moral.


The fisherman and his wife

Two parodies of the same tale:

The magic fish – Fractured Fairy Tales


Fractured Fairy Tales – The fisherman and his wife


Aesop: biography of a great thinker


The town mouse and the country mouse – Aesop’s fables


City mouse and country mouse


Мышь vs. Печенька (Mouse vs Biscuit)

After reading several versions of the famous Aesop’s fable, the students created their own interpretation of “City Mouse & Country Mouse” as a PhotoPeach slideshow. A combined effort of brainstorming, storyboarding, set creation, photographing, and joint construction of text!


City Mouse & Country Mouse

Facts about fish

Stage 1 and Early Stage 1 students are studying fables this term and every second week, we are concentrating on gathering factual information on one of the animals/concepts featured in the fable.

These Youtube videos will be useful for “Fish”:


How do fish live under water?


Setting up a goldfish aquarium


How the seahorse got its shape — by Nature Video

Champions read!

Flash learns to hop

A group of Stage 1 (Year 2) students have been working on creating a digital story about the Book Week slogan, “Champions read”. We have spent 30 mins per day (for 2 weeks) watching stimulus material, such as The hare and the tortoise (2009) fable. Also brainstorming, character building, storyboarding, taking digital photos, caption writing, editing, and selecting music. They have discussed their effort on the book rap, Join a reading adventure.

Easter Carnival hopping race

See this exciting digital story on Photo Peach!


Champions read!

Photo Peach message

The man, the boy and the donkey

Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 are studying fables this term. We found this great short video, with accompanying song, on Youtube:


Song: “A Man, a Boy and a Donkey” – Children’s Music Video

And here’s an award-winning music video version, by Derek Sonic Thunders, of Craig Smith’s “Wonky donkey” picture book and song:


Wonkey donkey song unofficial music video

Last term’s Stage 1 book rappers are doing an extension activity with me during our Literacy time: investigating claymation (stop motion) video presentations using a kit from the local post office, “Make your own haunted house movie” by Nancy Hall (Hinkler Books, 2010). We have already storyboarded our Halloween story, but have now checked out a few claymation fable videos on Youtube:


The story of the boy who cried wolf – claymation


Bugs and books 2008

More about frogs

After experiencing many versions of the fable, “The exploding frog“, our Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 students are studying factual information about frogs. These Youtube video clips (below) will support their learning:


Inside Taronga’s Corroboree frog conservation container
(with Michael McFadden, Mrs Brisco’s son-in-law)


Corroboree frog update from Mt Kosciuszko


Tree frog jumping


Frog swimming


Green treefrog calling


Frog song