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How To Make a Fairytale Terrarium

I’ve been coveting terrariums for some time now (These ones from Frog, Goose and Bear and Pollyposs are particularly beautiful), but I’ve been far too afraid to try one myself. You see, I am NO green thumb. But I just knew they’d make perfect gifts for my mum and mother-in-law who both love their gardens. [...]

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DIY Book-Inspired Advent Wishing Tree

DIY Advent Wishing Tree. Inspired by What Do You Wish For by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker

Ever since I was a child, my favourite part of Christmas has always been counting down the days with the help of an Advent calendar. I seem to have passed that excitement onto our children. In our home, Christmas starts with the Advent calendar. Only once we’ve opened the first day of the calendar can we begin decorating the house and Christmas tree.

When Cammy was a baby, I started wrapping Christmas books to read each day of the season and stacked them to look like a Christmas tree, but these days, now that Cammy is much more involved in creating our Advent calendars, they tend to be inspired by particular Christmas books.

My Little Bookcase Advent Calendars

This year our Advent calendar has been inspired by a new book by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker titled, What do you Wish for? Our Advent calendar will have multiple uses; as well as helping us to count down the days to Christmas, it will also feature as our Christmas table centrepiece and become our own family wishing tree.


WHAT DO YOU WISH FOR? By Jane Godwin and Anna WalkerSubmerged in my favourite Christmas colours of red, green and gold, this book instantly made me feel nostalgic for everything I remembered about Christmas as a child; a response that proves why Jane Godwin and Anna Walker are my favourite book collaborators. They work harmoniously to bring magic and whimsy to a story about the simple pleasures and experiences of everyday Australian families.

What do you Wish For? is inspired by a real wishing tree that can be found beside the Merri Creek walking track in Clifton Hill,Melbourne and features Ruby who recounts her Christmas experiences when she’s encouraged by her friends and family to add a Christmas wish to the community wishing tree. The story so beautifully captures the spirit of Christmas through the eyes of a child: the anticipation, the experiences, the smells, the traditions and the MAGIC OF WISHING even the wildest wishes!

But the story is bigger than the viewpoint of little Ruby. We see the residents of Ruby’s neighbourhood plan and prepare for their annual Christmas event, which includes a party, a Christmas show and a community wishing tree. The book celebrates the importance of community, togetherness and appreciating the experiences-both concrete and intangible- at Christmas time.

More details about What do you Wish For? at the end of the post.


Supplies for What Do You Wish For? Advent Wishing Calendar. More details at My Little Bookcase

You will need:

  • Tree branches (or an actual Christmas tree if your prefer)
  • A sturdy vase or bucket
  • 24 small craft envelopes
  • Numeral stickers or stamps (optional)
  • 24 slips of paper (plus one extra for each member of your family/community)
  • Ribbon
  • Advent treats (e.g. small chocolates, stationery, jewellery etc.)
  • Clear fillable baubles (one for each family/community member)
  • Hole punch
  • Pen

Part 1: Advent Calendar Activity Envelopes

  • Begin preparing your Advent calendar by numbering your envelopes 1- 24 (We used stickers but stamping or writing the numbers would work just as well).
  • In each envelope place an Advent activity card and a treat.
  • Close each envelope, punch a hole at the top and thread with decorative ribbon.

Activity Cards for What Do You Wish For Advent Wishing Tree Calendar. More details at My Little Bookcase

What Do You Wish for Advent Wishing Tree Calendar Envelopes. More info at My Little Bookcase

Part 2: Constructing your Wishing Tree

  • Prepare your branches by placing them in a sturdy vase. Secure the branches and weight the vase by filling the base with sand, stones, dirt etc.
  • Hang your envelopes on your branches, and open a corresponding envelope each day of Christmas.

(The envelopes look beautiful hanging on the bare branches, but you could also make a wishing tree by using a mini artificial tree as a table centrepiece, or by placing your envelopes on your actual Christmas tree or a tree in your backyard).

What Do You Wish For Advent Wishing Tree Calendar Envelope. My Little Bookcase

What Do You Wish For Advent  Calendar Wishing Tree. My Little Bookcase

Close up of What Do You Wish For Advent Calendar. My Little Bookcase

Part 3: Adding your wishes to the tree

  • For the final touch to the wishing tree, invite each family member to write and hang a Christmas wish on the tree. You could write these on craft tags, but we chose to make wish baubles.
  • Ask each family member to write a wish on a slip of paper and place it inside the bauble. Once the wish is secured inside the bauble, tie to some ribbon and hang from the tree.

(As well as hanging our own wishes to the tree, we plan on asking our extended family to add their wishes to the tree on Christmas Eve/Day.)

Wishing Bauble for a DIY Advent Wishing Tree. My Little Bookcase

What Do You Wish For Advent Calendar Wishing Bauble and Envelope. My Little Bookcase

What Do You Wish For Advent Calendar Envelope and Wishing Bauble. My Little Bookcase

Activity Envelopes on What Do You Wish For Advent Wishing Tree Calendar. My Little Bookcase

What Do You Wish For Advent Calendar Wishing Tree. My Little Bookcase


Author: Jane Godwin

Illustrator: Anna Walker

ISBN: 9780670078110

Format: Hardback

Publisher: Penguin, Oct 2015

RRP: $24.99


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About Jackie Small of My Little Bookcase

10 Writing Prompt Ideas for Kids

10 Writing Prompts for Kids_ My Little Bookcase

“I hate writing.”

It’s upsetting but true that parents and teachers hear this phrase all too regularly from children the world over.

I’m passionate about finding ways to make writing joyful for children. In past posts I’ve shared ideas for setting up an inviting writing space for kids, celebrating children’s writing with a book launch and overcoming children’s physical aversions to pen and paper with 365+ alternatives.

But, what about the kids who don’t know what to write, or the kids with too many ideas, or the kids who simply  won’t write because they’re too scared their writing won’t be good enough?

Below, I’ve shared 10 prompts to help children generate ideas for writing. The idea is to initially encourage kids to just write without actually giving their writing too much thought. Encourage them to feel safe to let their ideas flow without worrying about grammar, spelling, punctuation or neat handwriting.

While proficient writers will be able to record their own ideas, pre and beginning writers might need some help. Try:

  • Recording their oral storytelling with video or phone devices.
  • Asking your child to use pictures to tell their story.
  • Act as a scribe for your child.

10 Writing Prompts for Kids

1. Write about the EVERYDAY!

Arm your child with a journal or a camera and encourage them to record anything that captures their interest (e.g. a billboard, a man asking for directions, a piece of artwork, a duck crossing the road or a leaf floating down a creek etc.). Help them to take notes about what they see or observe (or take a photo to capture the moment or inspiration) while simply exploring your neighbourhood, walking to school or undertaking a special adventure. These tidbits of information become wonderful stimuli for writing.

Environmental Print_ Writing Stimulus. More ideas at My Little Bookcase

2. Lost and Found Stories

Invite your child to choose an item from a ‘lost and found’ box or from an Op shop and build a story using imaginary responses to questions such as:

  • Who does the item belong to?
  • When did they get it?
  • What did they use it for?
  • Where were they when they lost it?
  • How did they lose it?

3. Tap into books, themes and topics of interest

Build a child’s confidence in writing by asking them to write about what they know and love.

When you feel they are ready to be challenged beyond a topic area they feel comfortable, encourage them to experiment with a different writing style- try inviting them to employ or replicate the language or text structure of their favourite book in a story of their own.

Writing prompts for kids: Write about interests and strengths

4. Fill a Story Box (or Story Basket/ Story Bag)

Fill a bag with a range of items and invite your child to use the items as props in a story. Children can use all or just a selection of items from the box, depending on how many you placed there.

Items might include toys, pieces of nature, household items, souvenirs, school supplies, clothing, food packaging, and photos (the sky is the limit really).

5. Create Story Stones

Much like a story box, story stones provide tactile and visual stimuli for storytelling.  See this post on Little Golden Book Story Stones for more ideas.

Little Golden Books Story Stones by My Little Bookcase

6. Sentence Starters

Get your child started by providing them with a starting sentence; ask them to continue the story.

7. Prompt Cards

A prompt card gives a child a starting point for writing. It could be as simple as a word like the ones in this Storytelling Jar from Honey Bee Books, or they could be more specific by providing children with a setting, a character, a problem, a scenario or a question to answer.

Writer's Block- writing prompts for kids- available at www.child.com.au

We love our Writer’s Block set which includes over 150 visual and written prompts. It encourages children to write in a range of text types and Cammy just loves the lucky-dip feature. Some of our favourite prompts from the set include:

  • If numbers could talk, what would they say?
  • What would living in a triangle house be like?
  • What would you do if you were locked in a toy store all night?
  • Where would you go on a magic carpet ride?
  • What steps would you take to plan a birthday party?
  • What is the best toy to play with?
  • What if you had a pet monkey?
  • Describe the funniest looking animal?
  • What would you bring with you on a trip to space?
  • Describe life for a penguin from Antarctica.
  • What would you do without TV?

8. Recipe Creation

If your child likes to create concoctions (either in the kitchen or the garden), you can harness this interest; Ask your child to record the ingredients and method (and their imagination) by writing a recipe of their own.  Download our Mud Kitchen Recipe Book template or get more ideas on creating a recipe journal.

Mud Kitchen Recipe Book Template by My Little Bookcase

9. Letter Writing

Writing cards and letters to family, friends, and even imaginary or magical characters such as fairies or rag dolls is a great way to get kids writing. Children take a keen interest in others and become eager to hear back from their pen pals.

10. Puppet Theatres and Felt Boards

Setting up a simple puppet theatre, or a felt or sticky board provides an invitation for children to create a story, as it is an easy way to develop characters and dialogue. This might be a good one to record or scribe for your child.
Puppet Shows as Writing Prompts_ My Little Bookcase

Like this post? Stay connected:

Be sure to join one of our communities for more literacy-based inspiration, or subscribe to our mailing list so you don’t miss out on future posts.

Writer's Block available at www.child.com.au

This post is supported by Child.com.au and may contain links to the online store.

About Jackie Small of My Little Bookcase