Featured Post

A Backyard Space for Play and Learning (and Reading)

We’ve been spending quality time in our backyard lately, and I thought I might share this little corner of our home with you.The arrival of spring always instils a fresh new love for our backyard, but since bringing Ike home after an 8-day stay at the Royal Children’s Hospital, the kids have just delighted in [...]

Read more →

Choose-a-Book Christmas Chatterbox

I just love making and playing with chatterboxes. I always have.  And, I’m always looking for a reason to make one. At Christmas time we use the trusty chatterbox as a decision-maker to help us choose which Christmas books to read each day….because we have so many books but so little time to read them.

Read ahead to find out how to make and use a Christmas Chatterbox, and for MORE Christmas reading, play and craft ideas.

Christmas Chatterbox by My Little Bookcase


a)      Starting with a square piece of paper, fold the paper in half diagonally- in both directions, so that when you unfold the paper the creases create a cross.

b)      With the paper unfolded, fold each corner to the centre point. Don’t unfold.

c)       Turn the square  over and, again, fold each corner to the centre point. Don’t unfold.

d)      Fold the square in half horizontally.

Christmas Chatterbox instructions by My Little Bookcase

Label and decorate your chatterbox

e)      After following steps a-d, you should now be able to slip your fingers under the flaps to control your chatter box, but first you need to label and decorate it.

f)      Choose eight Christmas book titles to include on your chatterbox. Unfold the chatterbox and write the book titles on the 8 spaces available on the inner-side of the chatterbox.

g)       Fold these flaps back into the centre and write the numbers 1-8 on each of the small triangles.

h)      Turn the chatterbox over and write four Christmas-themed words on the corners of the outer-side of the chatterbox (we also include symbols or pictures to provide Cammy with a visual reading prompt/cue).

Christmas chatterbox instructions by My Little Bookcase

Your child might enjoy decorating the chatterbox with stickers, stamps and Christmas colours.

Make a Christmas Chatterbox


Model the use of the chatterbox for your children until they are ready to try themselves.

  • Ask your child to choose one Christmas word displayed on the chatterbox (Having pictures and symbols can help a pre-reader).
  • Spell the word, opening and closing the chatterbox each time you say a letter aloud.
  • When you stop moving the chatterbox, ask your child to choose a number from the ones displayed.
  • Count aloud until you reach this number; again opening and closing the chatterbox each time you say a number aloud.
  • When the chatterbox has stopped moving, ask your child to choose another number from the ones displayed.
  • Lift the chosen flap to reveal a book title, which will be the one you read together.

Use the chatterbox each day of Christmas (You might like to make three different chatterboxes if you would like to read a different book each day of Christmas without repeating any).

Christmas chatterbox play by My Little Bookcase

Chatterboxes are so much fun, but they also provide many opportunities for learning and skill development:

  • As children practise manipulating their chatterbox (which takes a while to master), they are using and developing their fine motor skills
  • Having words and numbers on the chatterbox gives your child the chance to practise to reading, spelling and counting in a fun, festive way.



Christmas Books for Babies and Toddlers

Australian Christmas Books

Delightful Christmas Books

Books about Christmas Trees


Advent and Christmas Countdown Ideas for Little Bookworms

A Book-Inspired ‘Christmas Cracker’ Advent Calendar

12 Fun Ways to Enjoy Your Christmas Book Collection

Setting up a Christmas Reading Corner


A Little Golden Book Nativity Set (with story stones)

A Magical Sleigh Ride Play Scene


Very Arty Kid-Made Christmas Stationery with Bauble Painting

Handmade Swirled Glass Vases

Making personal wrapping paper like The Christmas Giant

Stamped Clay Decorations with Slinky Malinki


Christmas Wombats for Santa

Storybook Christmas Party

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.

About Jackie Small of My Little Bookcase

Our Family Visit to the Alison Lester Store

My family recently took a road trip to Fish Creek to attend the official grand opening of Alison Lester’s new concept store, which also coincided with a triple book launch (Noni the Pony goes to the Beach, Imagine 25th Anniversary Edition and Baby Days).

Alison Lester Store Opening and Book Launch, Fish Creek VIC

Latest Alison Lester Books_My Little Bookcase

Driving over two hours to attend a book launch and store opening certainly makes me a dedicated book-blogger, but this was a mini getaway my family needed so hubby and the kids didn’t need much convincing and jumped at the chance to get a way for the night (The weekend did end with Ike standing on a dead puffer fish that had washed ashore at Waratah Bay. But, that story is for another day).

Cammy is always excited to attend book launches and meet her favourite authors.  I was fairly busy snapping away with my camera, but hubby and our kids enjoyed time in the dedicated reading space with the array of books from the Alison Lester library. Noni the Pony has been a huge hit in our home for some time, but it was Baby Ike who fell in love with the plush version of Noni.

Our family trip to the Alison Lester Concept Store, Fish Creek VIC

Noni the Pony at Alison Lester Store, Fish Creek VIC

Alison Lester at Fish Creek Book Launch

Definitely put a trip to Fish Creek on your To-Do List. In the meantime here are a few photos to whet your appetite for a road trip to Alison Lester’s divine store at 1 Falls Road, Fish Creek VIC (I hope you’ve got a few minutes up your sleeve because I maybe went a little overboard with photos).

The exterior of the Alison Lester Concept Store catches your eye straight away. It’s crisp and quaint and bedecked with large displays of native foliage.

Alison Lester Store, Fish Creek VIC

Alison Lester Concept Store, Fish Creek VIC

Step inside the light and bright shop (which amongst other things had a former life as an ice cream store and furniture shop) and you’re greeted with a shop counter hidden behind a beautiful piece of art from Magic Beach.

The white walls are adorned with all sorts of Alison Lester works from canvas paintings to picture book prints and commemorative pieces acknowledging Alison’s extensive work as Australia’s Inaugural Children’s Laureate.  Personally I found the display of Alison’s brainstorming notes, storyboards, sketches and character development charts most fascinating to view.  These inclusions make the Alison Lester Concept Store just as much a gallery.

Alison Lester Concept Store Counter, Fish Creek VIC

Alison Lester Store and Gallery, Fish Creek VIC

Alison Lester Commemorative Pieces

Alison Lester storyboarding and inspiration

You could honestly get lost in the beautiful store for hours-not only admiring the artwork but spending time in the reading room furnished with a vintage couch and comfy floor cushions. There is an extensive library of Alison Lester books (including many in foreign languages), which you are welcome to sit and read. This room is also penned for use with school groups who visit the store.

Alison Lester Store Library and Reading Room, Fish Creek VIC

Alison Lester Store, Library and Gallery, Fish Creek VIC

Alison Lester Library, Fish Creek VIC

Alison Lester Books in many languages

Alison Lester Store, Library and Reading Room, Fish Creek VIC

This gallery-come-store will have you mesmerised at every turn. I doubt you will be able to leave empty handed. As well as art, prints and books there are many other unique items available for purchase, including wrapping paper and greeting cards featuring prints from many of Alison’s much-loved books.

If you are unable to visit Alison Lester’s bricks and mortar store, you can still purchase books, prints and cards through Alison Lester’s Online Store. Simply phone or email the store to organise signed copies.

Alison Lester Wrapping Paper

Alison Lester Cards

Alison Lester Library Bags

And if you’ve ventured down to Fish Creek, then make sure you explore the area a little further, which has provided Alison with great inspiration for her books.
Some of the highlights for us included

  • 9 Acres- A coffee bar and second hand book store that served us the most delectable coffee and croissants.
  • Fish Creek Hotel for yummy dinner, incredible service and cosy accommodation
  • A visit to Waratah Bay where Noni the Pony lives and plays.

Fish Creek, VIC

We know from the original Noni the Pony book that Noni ‘lives on a farm at Waratah Bay‘. The kids were eager to visit Waratah Bay and search for Noni in the nearby paddocks.

With Wilson’s Promontory in the background the kids tried to re-enact scenes from Noni’s new adventure book,  Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach.

They frolic and splash as the waves tumble by,

scattering seagulls into the sky.

It is an easy book to enjoy with kids with fun rhyming text and child-like adventures.

Our Family Visit to Waratah Bay, VIC

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.

About Jackie Small of My Little Bookcase