Oh Creative Lady: Meet Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys

In my exceptionally humble opinion, Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys are an unbeatable powerhouse on the children’s book publishing scene. ‘Under the Love Umbrella’ and ‘‘All the Ways to be Smart’ are the two books I recommend the most frequently. (You’ve been warned- if I don’t recommend one of those two books to you, it’s a dead cert that I will recommend the other to you.) ‘The Underwater Fancy Dress Parade’ is the book I chose to gift to my son for his first birthday.
To say that I am fangirling at the fact that Davina and Allison are HERE ON MY BLOG would be, well, a complete understatement.

Through blogging and Instagramming, I’ve been introduced to an amazing Virtual Sisterhood of Creative Ladies.The Oh Creative Lady series is your chance to meet these incredible, kind-hearted, inspiring <insert ALL the happy, positive adjectives HERE> women.

Meet Davina and Allison.

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We are…. Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys, an author–illustrator duo who make picture books together. Allison is from NT and Davina is from WA but now we both live in Melbourne. Davina loves the sun and Allison loves the shade.

I find inspiration…
So many people and things inspire me. My friends and family are definitely the greats! Music and books – of course! I love pattern – particularly in nature – and have an appreciation for all sorts of typography, be it super slick or a dodgy hand-written ‘garage sale’ sign. And in terms of design and illustration, I think I am most in love with artists who were working in the 1950’s.

We’re excited about … our new project – our fourth picture book together. We’re never happier than when we’re sitting together workshopping the illustrations, making tiny scrap-paper versions of the book, moving the text around and giving each other high-tens of happiness when we feel like we’ve nailed a tricky section. We hope we can work together for always.

When I’m in a creative slump, I…
If I’m in a slump, it’s usually because I’m too afraid of being bad to even try and that’s made me lose respect for myself. So I combat that by doing something to earn back my own regard, and I’m not going to lie – it’s usually cleaning the vegetable section of my fridge. If that doesn’t work, I will walk in nature. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll get a Pomodoro timer going, read a Mary Oliver poem and grit my teeth. Or give up and get a coffee.

We’re really proud that… the books we make together say to kids, in different ways, that they are enough just as they are – that they are treasured for their uniqueness and loved unconditionally. Our new book that we’re currently working on, is about making mistakes, and we’re proud that we are talking about shame and imperfection and forgiveness and self-acceptance, which can be hard to tackle. It’s a privilege to have this platform, and one that we are so conscious of using to spread maximum compassion. We’re also proud of our long-term commitment to eating carob Banjo Bears. If you’re a rep from Banjo, please look us up for a sponsorship arrangement. We’re happy to endorse.

Someone once told me…
‘Write the book that only you can write.’
That’s what the author Martine Murray said once in a writing class, and I can still feel the ease and freedom that I felt in my body in that moment – as if I had put down a great burden. You don’t need to go out searching for a grand and revolutionary plot or premise. Your story is already within you. It’s in the constellation of your past and present, identity and interests, knowledge and hobbies, values and passions. You will find your story or your style by following your curiosity through a maze of your own uniqueness.

My advice to you is…
If you’re a writer, please see Davina’s excellent note above!

I’m not very good at advice, but here are some things that I know I need to do, and that I feel sure you’re already across!: Make more time to be amongst the things that inspire you. Make more time to draw for fun.

You can find me at …
@davina.bell on Instagram

‘Under the Love Umbrella’ is now available in board book format. It is the PERFECT present for a baby shower or first birthday. (I totes gave a copy to my niece for her first birthday.)

Check out our READ + CREATE activity to accompany Davina Bell and Allison Colpoy’s “Under the Love Umbrella.”


Reading With Children Tip: Slow. It. Down

Reading With Children Tip: Slow. It. Down

I’ve got a little challenge for you. The next time you’re reading with children, observe how fast you read aloud and experiment with slowing your reading speed down.

Now as us teachers say to students, we don’t want you sounding like robots. It’s super important for kids to hear a fluent reader reading aloud. So maintain fluency but slow it down.

Why is it important to slow it down when reading with children?

There’s A LOT at play when a little reader is listening to us read. All that awesome vocab is hitting their ears, they’re observing details in illustrations and making connections between print and illustrations. Slowing it down gives everyone a chance to luxuriate in the language whilst giving a bit of extra time for little readers to process it all.

PLUS who has ever read something loudly in speech marks only to get to “he whispered” at the end of the sentence? *face palm* Slowing it down gives you a chance to scan ahead for read aloud prompts like this.

It’s so important to build wait time into read alouds. Not rushing to turn the page but giving that all important processing time. I know that sometimes we want to rush to the end of the book when reading with children because IT’S BEDTIME AND MUM NEEDS A SPECIAL DRINK, but slowing it down and waiting really enriches a read aloud.

If you try this tip, I’d love to hear how it went for you!

I share more teacher-approved reading with children tips over on my Instagram.


The Grouchy Ladybug Craft and Telling Time Activity

The Grouchy Ladybug Craft and Telling Time Activity

This Grouchy Ladybug craft is a perfect way to explore the painting process that Eric Carle uses to create his iconic illustrations.
It’s also a perfect creative project to pair with teaching time on an analogue clock.
The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle is my go-to text when teaching littles how to tell the time.
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It’s actually called The Bad-Tempered Ladybird in my neck of the woods. Funny how the titles of books change based on your location.

Painting tissue paper is one of our favourite art processes! Check it out in the following video.

How to create your own Grouchy Ladybug craft

You’ll need:
Tissue paper
Acrylic paint
A variety of paintbrushes
Cardboard to lay under tissue paper whilst painting (hello old boxes!)
White craft glue
3 split pins
White paper + black pen
The Grouchy Ladybug template
Thin card

Painting tissue paper a la Eric Carle is addictive.
TIP #1: Prepare your space and have a drying rack or space ready to dry artwork flat.
I wish I could pretend that I followed this tip, but this is what our workspace looked like. Yep I used a veggie box as a drying rack. Luckily for us, the kitchen island is right behind us here, so as the veggie box drying rack filled up, I’d quickly turn around and place the wet art on the island behind me. Sort your space before you start!

Lay your tissue paper on scraps of cardboard box. Let the painting begin!
Eric Carle advises that you lift your paper gently every so often to prevent it sticking to the cardboard underneath.

Tip #2: We began with only red and white paint.
We experimented with different brushes and implements to create red painted tissue paper.

Tip #3: It’s really great to have lots of paintbrushes to use as you move into using different colours.
Ain’t nobody got time to be washing brushes once this activity starts.

Good readers observe the details in illustrations.
We observed the different blending of colour on The Grouchy Ladybird’s cover.
Tip #4: Introduce black paint next and experiment with creating red tinged with black.

Tip #5: We noticed that The Grouchy Ladybug had tinges of blue to her. Introduce blue paint and experiment with using blue and black together.

Once your painted tissue paper has dried, tear it into pieces. Possibly the most satisfying part of this whole process!

Tip #6: I grouped our torn tissue paper according to tints and shades. This makes it much easier at the gluing stage.

Print off the Grouchy Ladybug craft template and trace onto thin card. A cereal box would be perfect!
We covered the base in black tissue paper. Her face has hints of blue and white to it.
The wings are obviously red- reserve some black tissue paper for the ladybird’s dots!
You just paint on a layer of white glue and press tissue paper down.

We traced around a glass to form the clock’s face.
Once the base of your ladybird is covered, this clock face is simply glued on top.

A copy of Eric Carle's book The Grouchy Ladybug with a Grouchy Ladybug craft

Cut out a long arm and a short arm for your clock and secure to your ladybird with a split pin.
Secure both wings in a place with a split pin each.
Glue the top of the ladybug’s head and antennae in place.

Voila! Your Grouchy Ladybug craft is complete.

Need more Eric Carle-inspired ideas? Here are 26!

Pin for later:

A Grouchy Ladybug craft featuring kids craft

22 Picture Books About Shapes

22 Picture Books About Shapes

Shapes are an important part of a young learner’s cognitive development.
Whoa! No pressure!
In all seriousness, shapes help young children to describe, classify and make sense of their world.
Here are 22 of our favourite picture books about shapes to help you and your little learner explore the wonderful world of shapes.

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Watch This! By Jane Godwin and Beci Orpin

I want to teach Preschoolers and K-2 forevermore just so I can use this book repeatedly in all Shape and Geometry lessons.
A gaggle of adorable children show us how they can make shapes and lines with their bodies.
My kids were intrigued by seeing other kids in print and ADORED the idea of using their bodies to imitate shapes.
One of my all-time favourite picture books about shapes.

Wednesday by Anne Bertier

Shapes at Play by Silvia Borando

Shapes, Reshape! by Silvia Borando

DISCLAIMER: I am a massive fan girl of Silvia Borando and all books published by Mini Bombo.
Their books use simple geometric illustrations in such clever ways to explore a variety of concepts.

Walter’s Wonderful Web by Tim Hopgood

The Shape Game by Anthony Browne

We adore playing this game! Draw a shape – or series of shapes – and present them to a partner.
What can your partner turn these shapes into?
A great way to play with shapes and inspire the imagination. You can see this game being played in Frida and Bear, also by Anthony Browne.

Apples and Robins by Lucie Felix

Shape Shift by Joyce Hesselberth

Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert

Triangle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

Square by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

Triangle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

This trilogy of books from Barnett and Klassen (The Dream Team of Picture Book Creators) is hilarious with philosophical undertones.
Each character takes the form of a shape and has personality traits that are reflective of their shape.
The stories centre on the themes of friendship and provide lots of content for older readers to discuss.

Circle Rolls by Barbara Kanninen and Serge Bloch

Windblown by Edouard Manceau

Have You Seen My Monster? By Steve Light

An awesome look-and-find book centred around a little girl’s adventure through a country fair.
We’re looking for a monster but along the way we’re also spotting 20 shapes in the illustrations. Trapezoids, ellipses, kites, nonagons – oh my!

Circle, Triangle, Elephant! By Mayuko Takeuchi

This is a super fun board book suitable for the younger reader.

The ZOOM Epic Journeys Series by Viction-Viction

Perfect Square by Michael Hall

Change the Shape by Andy Mansfield

Shape By Shape by Suse Macdonald

What are your favourite picture books about shapes?

You know that helping you READ + CREATE is my jam!
Click here for some creative ways to explore shapes that can extend a reading of picture books about shapes.

The images and titles of each book will take you to Book Depository. As a Book Depository Affiliate, purchases clicked through from my blog result in a small commission. You do not pay any extra for your books! Commission is used to maintain Oh Creative Day. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy here.

The Amazon links will take you to Amazon. I am also an affiliate with Amazon and will receive a small commission. You do not pay any extra for your books.

If you prefer, you can order from Australian based online bookstore Booktopia.

Thanks for your support. Happy reading!


25 Picture Books About Bunnies

25 Picture Books About Bunnies

READ: Picture books about bunnies (Check out the list below!)

CREATE: A collage bunny mask or a Little Peter Rabbit puppet

Peter Rabbit. Little Nutbrown Hare. Miffy. Knuffle Bunny.
The world of picture books is filled with many iconic rabbits.
Who is your favourite literary bunny?
Here are just some of our favourite picture books about bunnies.

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Cover of the picture book Sleep, My Bunny by Rosemary Wells

Sleep, My Bunny by Rosemary Wells

Bunnies on the Bus by Philip Ardagh and Ben Mantle

Knuffle Bunny series by Mo Willems

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram
This iconic bunny picture book is celebrating its 25th birthday. The gorgeous 25th anniversary hardcover edition comes in a beautiful slipcase. It also comes with a high quality giclée art print of one of the most loved scenes.

Origami Heart by Binny

Cover of I am a Bunny by Richard Scarry

I Am A Bunny by Richard Scarry

The Peter Rabbit series by Beatrix Potter

The Miffy Series by Dick Bruna

Ruby Red Shoes by Kate Knapp

Little Rabbit Foo Foo by Michael Rosen and Arthur Robins

The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett

The Great Rabbit Chase by Freya Blackwood

My Dead Bunny by Sigi Cohen and James Foley

This book is hilariously macabre. Sew your own zombie bunny using our tutorial.

End papers of picture book My Dead Bunny with a felt zombie bunny

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Pip and Posy by Axel Scheffler

The JoJo series by Xavier Deneux

Rabbit’s Nap by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

The Rhyming Rabbit by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks

The Snow Rabbit by Camille Garoche

Super Rabbit by Stephanie Blake

Dear Bunny by Katie Cotton and Blanca Gomez

Cover of picture book Dear Bunny by Katie Cotton

Max and Ruby series by Rosemary Wells

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons by Il Sung Na

Those Pesky Rabbits by Ciara Flood

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Du Bose Hayward and Marjorie Flack

The images and titles of each book will take you to Book Depository. As a Book Depository Affiliate, purchases clicked through from my blog result in a small commission. You do not pay any extra for your books! Commission is used to maintain Oh Creative Day. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy here.

The Amazon links will take you to Amazon. I am also an affiliate with Amazon and will receive a small commission. You do not pay any extra for your books.

If you prefer, you can order from Australian based online bookstore Booktopia.

Thanks for your support. Happy reading!

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Story Stones

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Story Stones

A set of stones with painted images are shown. They are to accompany a retelling of We're Going on A Bear Hunt.

We made these We’re Going on a Bear Hunt story stones to mark this classic book’s 30th birthday.
This is a book that brings up all of the warm and fuzzies for so many readers.
And what is a childhood without reenacting the legendary Bear Hunt with some swishy-swashying in long, wavy grass and squelch-squerching in thick, oozy mud?  (This read of the story by the author Michael Rosen is so fun.)

Story stones are a fabulous way to help young readers retell the story. They are a concrete material that helps deepen comprehension of the book.

What you will need to make your Bear Hunt Story Stones:

Some smooth stones (I bought mine from Cleverpatch. You could try your local garden centre or go on a rock collecting walk.)
My free Bear Hunt Story Stones printable*
PVA glue or Mod Podge
“We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” Story Stones Printable

A bird's eye view of a craft table is shown. Childrens' hands are squeezing glue.

The process is pretty simple.

Download the “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” Story Stones Printable.

Cut out each oval from the printable.
Choose a stone for each scene.
You will need to trim the oval down to fit each unique stone.
Use PVA glue or Mod Podge to glue the paper onto the stone- “just a dot, not a lot.”
Then put a thin coat of PVA glue / Mod Podge over the paper. This helps to give your story stones a nice gloss, but most importantly, it seals the paper and helps your story stones last a bit longer.

When we made these story stones in my READ + CREATE classes, the conversations that arose were the CUTEST.
One mini maker wondered why they went on a bear hunt if they didn’t really want to find a bear.
We all wondered how the bear was feeling as he trudged back to his cave.

If you do use this printable to make your own We’re Going on a Bear Hunt story stones, I’d love to see them! Tag me on IG or FB with @ohcreativeday.

Text overlay reads We're Going on a Bear Hunt: Story Stones Grab your free printable