Books & Periodicals · Digital · ideas · Lesson plans

The World needs Elephants

Elephants live in 37 African and six Asian countries. The African is larger, and is in fact the largest animal on land.

Its shoulders can be up to 11 feet high and it can weigh up to six tons. Elephants use their trunks to breathe, wash, or hold things. They live up to 45 years in the wild, but only about 18 years in zoos. Animal rights organisations believe there are 15,000 to 20,000 elephants in captivity worldwide.

“Elephants need to be in constant motion.”

“They walk up to 50 miles a day. When they don’t move, that’s when they have physical problems.”

Read the full article here

The largest elephant ever was an adult African male who weighed around a ton (24,000 pounds) and about 4m (13 feet) tall at the shoulder.

Elephant brains are three or four times larger than humans, but are a smaller portion of overall body weight. They have one tusk they use more than the other, just like humans do with their hands.

Today, many elephants are in national parks or other managed areas. That is the closest thing to being the wild as they can get. Because they need a lot of space to roam, it is argued that zoos are not the best places for elephants.

There were millions of African elephants and hundreds of thousands of Asian elephants alive at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, there are between 450,000 – 700,000 African elephants and 35,000 – 40,000 wild Asian elephants. They are in danger.

Elephant poaching is a another big threat to their existence both Asia and Africa. “Poisoning and shooting and electrocutions of elephants is a big problem,” said Sybille Klenzendorf, director of the species conservation program with the World Wildlife Fund.

But habitat loss is the greatest threat to the vast majority of wildlife, including elephants. Approximately half of the world’s original forests are gone, and what remains is still being removed ten times faster than it can be replaced. 

At the same time, elephant attacks on humans are increasing, especially after the matriarchs of a herd are killed. Without supervision, the teenage orphans have no boundaries and some become very aggressive.

After a crackdown on poaching in Botswana, South Africa and Namibia, elephant numbers in one national park nearly doubled in five years.  

Tusk, a charity working to save animals in danger, says that helping people understand the importance of wildlife and how to avoid conflict is essential for developing greater tolerance. 

They also have some practical options, from using beehive fences (elephants don’t like bees), to elephant trenches, and using deterrents like chilli (yes, chilli!) alongside planning better use of land. Read more about it here.

Elephants never forget, let’s not forget them.

This article first appeared in Chicken Newspaper for Children

Books & Periodicals · ideas

Ideas come from somewhere

Memories make the best stories

Some people are lucky enough to tell those stories in a very entertaining and enjoyable way, but that doesn’t change the fact that everyone has a story inside them. Find your story. Tell it, Draw it. Sing it.  Act it.

How to catch ideas

Ideas are tricky. They appear from anywhere and for any reason. Holding on to them is difficult, but worth the effort. Here are a few exercises to catch ideas.

  • 1. The Idea Matrix: Draw an object or write a word on the top left corner of a piece of paper. Put another object on the bottom right hand corner. Now, write or draw the first things that come into your head, making a link from word to word, or drawing to drawing.
  • 2. Group Activity:  Hasta Vista: This exercise encourages you to behave like the animal, using voices and actions different to your own. Choose an animal you would like to be. One of you asks the others to move about as that animal while the rest of the group is still frozen. Try the ‘Touch on’ setting, where the others can become the forest while the chosen kids move about.
  • 3. Activity: Beginning, Middle, End: Take your favourite story and work out the beginning middle and the end. 

Bring the idea to life

Once you have caught a few ideas, it is time to decide which to work on. Some people have friends or family who are really good listeners and are honest enough to tell them the truth about their idea. 

While it can hurt, it is useful to know if others think your idea is great, or not so great.

Writers and illustrators capture ideas all the time. Most are okay, some are terrible, but a few turn out to be really good. They learn from their mistakes to make their next idea better.

Being patient and calm is very useful when you are planning to bring your idea to life. Being organised is more important though. If it’s going to be a book, for instance, you have to think about the size of the book, where the text goes, where the pictures go, how big they will be, how many pages there are, and so on. 

Don’t aim to get things right in one go; Read over your work
a few times, each making it slightly better each time until you feel it is ready to show.

Keep your ideas in one place

Our brains are more powerful than the most powerful super computer, but sometimes they’re not switched on! Ad when they are on, they are constantly changing our ideas.

The best way to keep track of things is to write them down. Writers and illustrators have many sketchbooks and notebooks filled with passing thoughts. Some become ideas and those ideas become books or movies or games.

 What is important is that they are in one place and can be found easily.

Show your work

By the time the idea is ready to show, you, the creator of the work, should be confident of one thing; That this work is clear enough to get a Yay! Or a Nay! 

If people are confused by your work it probably means that you haven’t made it clear enough. It also means that you were so close to the work that you didn’t have the heart to be honest or critical enough. The result is that you will be really upset by any negative comments about the work, rather than accepting that people are trying to help. 

If it is clear though, you can be proud that you did you very best to get your story out of your head and on to paper and that some people enjoyed it. In other words, you won’t be too hurt that not everone likes it. You can’t please everybody.

Writing & Drawing 

Write or draw in your own way as much as possible. Let your hands and your brain work together and see what happens.

Get to know how you make marks on paper so you can find out what your ‘style’ is. Most of all, do this as often as possible. Practice makes perfect. Be patient, but also be confident in your own ability and have fun!