Two Years of Programs

Below are descriptions of many of the programs Penny has developed. For more information about running these in your organisation, contact Penny.


Nursery Rhyme Letters (Literacy / Writing) - Foundation (Prep)

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Do you love receiving letters? I do. In this program we will read lots of letters that were written by people in famous nursery rhymes. Can you help work out who the letters are from?

We’ll also have fun making up our own letters to answer the ones we receive. You might write as well as draw pictures in your letters. What do you think Little Miss Muffet would write in a letter to the spider? Who would the mouse write to after coming down from the clock? How would the Three Blind Mice write a letter if they can’t see the paper? What about Peter Piper? He picked a peck of pickled peppers but what would he write in a letter? Where did Jack and Jill go after they tumbled down the hill and what did they write in their letter?

Of course we’ll also have to write our own mystery letters. Which character will you choose to write for? How will you give clues about who the letter is from? Will the other children be able to work out who your mystery letter is from? We’ll certainly have fun trying!

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That’s Not How It Ended! (Literacy / Writing) - Grades 1 & 2

Then the three bears went to a football match and cheered for Goldie Locks’ team to win… Jack grew beans for a living and was always poor because he had to pay the giant back… After Hansel and Gretel turned the witch into a worm, they stayed in the gingerbread house and got very fat … Cinderella decided she didn’t like the wimpy prince after all and she came to my school to teach us how to do karate …

But these aren’t the endings we’re used to hearing! What if you don’t like the way a story ends? Why not change it? Are there any stories you’d like to change? Would you make a new hero? Would you surprise other children with your different ideas?

In this program you will hear lots of stories that are different to what you expect. You’ll rewrite well-known stories and make up your own new ones. You might change an ending, create new characters or make boring stories funny. To help you do this you’ll have to think differently and be imaginative. You might like to draw pictures for your new story. You will also help the class make up a story for a puppet concert.

The best thing about this program will be that you’ll love how the story ends!

Penwar the Alien Visits Earth (Literacy / Creative Imagination) - Grades 1 & 2

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On a recent trip to outer space, humans made contact with the alien, Penwar. Penwar has now come to visit Earth to find out about our planet and how we live. What will he think of us? He will ask us all sorts of questions about how we travel, our language, the natural environment, our number system, what we eat, our animals, manners, our laws and our schools. Can you help Penwar to understand us by answering these questions?

Each week Penwar will send a report back to his planet. What will he write in his reports? What unique observations will Penwar make about our world and us? What will he think of our lives and how we look after our planet? Will he understand our laws and rules about life? Perhaps he’ll make funny mistakes such as calling the queen Mr Elizabeth or sleeping in the middle of a road. He might eat snot for breakfast or throw the pet cat like a ball! And what will he suggest to help us change our world for the better?

If you think you could explain things to Penwar and think about better ways to run our world, you’ll love this program!

Superheros' Underpants (Literacy / Journalism) - Grades 3 & 4

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In this program you will be investigating and reporting on important questions such as: Why do superheros wear their underpants on the outside? Why does a superhero stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him? How do those dead bugs get into those enclosed light fixtures? Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white? What's the speed of dark? What kind of seeds do seedless watermelons come from?

What do famous superheros do when they are not saving people? How do they fill their days? One famous alter ego was a journalist for a newspaper reporting on daily news and events. If you’ve ever wondered about being a journalist, then this could be the program for you.

In this program you will be a journalist for the Thinking Outside The Box Times. Your job will be to do interviews, investigate stories and write articles. You might like to write an article about some puzzling question like the ones above. You will also write an article such as a news item, a community story, a sporting story or a student council report. You also might write an article about the environment, some letters to the editor or an interesting story about someone important. There will be plenty of other newspaper sections to contribute to such as entertainment, competitions, weather, pocket money and the ‘funnies’.

At the end of the program you will help produce the Thinking Outside The Box Times. You’ll get your own copies to give to friends and family. And, if you decide to dress up as a superhero, you’ll have to decide whether you’re going to wear your underpants on the outside!

Mysterious Stories – (Literacy / Writing) - Grades 3 & 4

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Do you enjoy stories that are mysterious or strange in some way? Would you like to write a story that makes the reader wonder, get goose bumps, or makes their hair stand on end?

In this program you will start with a set of wonderful illustrations that were found in mysterious circumstances. One or more of these illustrations could be just the inspiration you need to write an amazing story. You’ll explore the genre of fantasy and how to write convincingly about the strange world or circumstances in which the characters in your story find themselves. You will have the opportunity to present your story to an audience, making them wonder, giving them goose bumps and maybe even making their hair stand on end!

If you’d like to know what it’s like to be the author of a mysterious story, wonder no longer - book in to this program.

Word Revolution (Literacy / Language) - Grades 5 & 6

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The world has become polluted with too many words. Organisations are overrun by millions of emails and we are running out of paper because of all the long documents being printed. Television channels and city streets are over-crowded with excess words. There are so many words in schools that there is no time for breaks anymore. It has to stop!

The government has created a new department called the ‘Ministry of Words’ to deal with this problem. The Ministry of Words has decided to reduce the number of words available for use to fifteen. This rationing of words will apply to everyone throughout the world.

Your team has been appointed by the Ministry of Words to decide which fifteen words are to be included in the new dictionary. You will need to explain your choices and show how the rationing of words may affect different parts of our society. In addition, you will have to choose two different methods for presenting your findings. You may choose to present through poetry, humour, mime, music, costumes or some other method. Whatever the case, you’ll have to think carefully and be convincing. Can you do it?

Myths & Legends (Literacy / Writing)-Grades 5 & 6

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Myths and legends create a mystical, fascinating world. In this program you will write your own myth or legend. To help you do this, you will first explore myths and legends from a range of times and cultures, including ancient Greek, Asian and Aboriginal Australian. You’ll find out how these magical stories originated and their purposes. You’ll decide who were the central characters and why they were important.

To write your own myth or legend, you will work individually or in a group. You might choose to use original ideas or adapt a favourite myth or legend in some manner. Perhaps you’ll convert an ancient myth to modern day times or make major changes to the characters. Something to consider is the contextual setting for your myth or legend. Also, it will be important to ensure your story is sensitive to the audience or its cultural origins.

You can choose how to present your myth. Some examples areacting out a drama, writing a children’s book, producing anartwork or developing a cartoon. At the end of the program, you willbe able to present your myth to an audience.

Let’s Make History (History) - Grades 5 & 6

While fiddling with a broken door handle one day, you suddenly find that you’ve travelled back in time. You’ve arrived in the place and time of a famous historical character. You can’t return to the present until you understand this person and the time they lived in. You can only do this by living in this person’s life as though you are him or her.

What is life like for you in this historical time? What clothes do you wear and what food do you eat? What do you spend your time doing and what do you do for fun? Why did you do the famous things you did? What influenced you? What did you believe in and what was important to you? What do you hope for in the future?

When you understand this person and what affected him or her you will be free to return to the present and tell us what you’ve discovered. You can also fix the doorknob so it never happens again!


Sparttron’s Maths Adventures (Open-ended Numeracy) -Foundation (Prep)

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Do you love doing Maths? So does a boy called Sparttron. As well as Maths, Sparttron also likes travelling and having adventures. One day Sparttron’s mother sent him a letter asking him to come and help her. She was lost somewhere far away and Sparttron had to find her.

So Sparttron set out on his adventure and did lots of fun Maths. He travelled by trains, planes, automobiles (which are really just cars) and spaceships! He also travelled in some very strange machines such as a Tracen, Spane, Plair and a Carship. What do you think these machines might look like and how would they move?

Would you like to come on a Maths adventure with Sparttron? If you do, you’ll have lots of fun. You’ll also solve some mysteries and find out what those strange travelling machines look like. You might even design one of your own.

Maths Monster (Open-ended Numeracy) -Grades 1 & 2


What would it be like if the Maths Monster was EVERYWHERE? If the only way to keep the Maths Monster away was to make up and answer heaps of maths questions? You might make up questions like: How long does it take to get ready for school if it takes 10 minutes to get dressed, 15 for breakfast and 5 to brush your teeth? And how many cars do you see on the way to school if you see 7 red ones, 4 blue ones and 9 white ones? OH, NO! What if one of them is a truck? Then if the teacher puts everyone into 5 groups of 4, how many children are there? What if two children are away? How many groups could you have then? If the answer to a question is ‘6 ice-creams’, what could the question be?

When you come to this program you will help to defeat the Maths Monster. The only way is to make up and answer as many maths questions as you can. There’ll be a new theme each week. After a while the Maths Monster will begin to get tired. Can you help defeat him before the end of the term? Let’s hope so!

Martian Maths (Open-ended Numeracy) -Grades 1 & 2

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Mardy the Maths Martian has reported some strange happenings in outer space. He’s found a source of dark matter (something you can’t see), the Zero has been sucked into a black hole, the citizens of Planet Jupiter have asked for a calendar and a giant space wormhole accidentally transported his mother-in-law to the Planet 51 Pegasi b which is about 50 light-years away.

Mardy is a troubled Martian and he’s come to us for help. What are the Martians going to do without a zero? It takes 12 Earth years for Jupiter to orbit the Sun so what will the new Jupiter Calendar look like? How long will it take for Mardy’s mother-in-law to get back to Mars if her spaceship is moving at 75,000 kilometers per hour? And finally, if Mardy uses dark matter to print the calendar, how will the people of Jupiter know what day it is?

In this program we’ll be doing our best to solve some of these maths conundrums. Are you going to help?

Maths Tricksters’ Club (Numeracy) -Grades 3 & 4


Come and join the Maths Tricksters’ Club to experiment with maths tricks. Each week you will be presented with new tricks and puzzles. Can you solve them? How do they work? Can you change the trick somehow to make a new trick? Try your new trick with family, friends or classmates. They’ll be amazed!

This program will appeal to you if you love playing with Maths and would like to know more about how our number system works. Sometimes you’ll work by yourself and others times with a small group. This program will help you to understand Maths even better than you do now.

The Borrowers’ House: Where did all the missing socks go? (Geometry) -Grades 3 & 4

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Have you ever noticed that things go missing in your house? Do you always get the blame for losing them? Ever wondered where all the missing things end up? I’m talking about things like that pale green pencil, the last piece of cake, your favourite top, the car keys, hair ties and that piece of Lego you really need. Well I can tell you where they went. The Borrowers took them. Have you heard of the Borrowers? They are the little people (just 5 centimetres tall) who live in the walls of your house. Don’t tell me you didn’t know? Haven’t you heard them scratching in the walls at night and scuffling across the floor just before you turn the light on? The Borrowers sneak into your home and borrow all sorts of things (and sometimes even give them back!).

However, the Borrowers are tired of living in your walls and want a house of their own. (And you wouldn’t mind if they stopped keeping you awake at night either!) It’s your job to design and build their new home. In this program you will use all sorts of Maths skills and maybe learn some new ones. You will use geometry, fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios and more. You will include unusual 3D shapes in your design and work out the right height for the ceilings. How inventive and creative can you be? Will your house be unique? Can you construct your 3D shapes? Most of all, can you convert your vision into a miniature house that is the envy of every Borrower?

Herlock Shoams’ School (Numeracy - Problem Solving) -Grades 5 & 6


Do you love Maths and think you have what it takes to succeed at the School of Mathematical Deduction? The school is run by the famous mathematics detective, Herlock Shoams, who can solve any mathematics problem by using one of his Nine Reliable Rules for Solving Impossible Problems. In this program you will attend Herlock Shoams’ famous school. Every week you will be presented with a new ‘impossible’ mathematics problem to solve. You will learn how to use Herlock’s Nine Reliable Rules to solve these problems.

Sometimes you’ll work by yourself and other times with your classmates. You’ll use what you already know about Maths and improve your problem-solving skills. You’ll be amazed by the number of solutions you come up with!

Impossible Problems (Numeracy - Problem Solving) -Grades 5 & 6

If you love Maths and you’re looking for a challenge, this program is sure to satisfy. You will be presented with a range of ‘impossible problems’ and your mission will be to solve them. You might work by yourself or with a partner. Sometimes you’ll work in teams. You will always be able to seek assistance from the teacher when you get stuck.

“Are the problems really impossible?” I hear you ask. Well, not really. But they might take some thinking and time to solve. You’ll learn and practise a range of the tools and strategies to help you solve difficult maths problems. If you did the TOTB program about Herlock Shoams this program will add to your skills. You’re sure to be surprised by how much you achieve in this program. You’ll also realise that impossible problems are not so impossible after all.


Illuminating The Mysterious Theia (Science - Light and Sound) -Grades 1 & 2

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Who was the mysterious Theia and what is her unknown story? What were all her talents and why was she the perfect wife of the Hyperion? How can the science of light and sound help us answer these questions?

To find out Theia’s secret identity you will need to explore the science of light and sound and then solve darkly-hidden clues. Each week you will be enlightened by the fascinating qualities of light and sound. You will heed and reflect on your learning to help uncloak coded messages. Each message will reveal new aspects of Theia’s character.

Will you be able to put all the evidence and science together to discover the story of Theia’s life? Will you expose enough about her amazing qualities to envision her appearance? When you look back on this program, you will be transfixed with what you witnessed!

Travel to Planet Yunan (Space Science / Imagining) -Grades 1 & 2

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Have you ever imagined what it would be like to get on a space ship and go into outer space? Well in this program you will get to design your own space ship. You’ll also plan and take an imaginary trip to a ‘newly-discovered’ planet called Yunan. What do you think you’ll find when you get to Yunan? You will be an explorer, collecting information about all the weird and wonderful life-forms you find.

To help you design your space ship and plan your journey, we’ll use Mr De Bono’s Thinking Hats to think about the trip in different ways. We’ll find out what the facts are (White Hat), look for the good and bad points (Yellow & Black Hats), think of new ideas (Green Hat) and ask what we’re feeling (Red Hat). But we’ve missed a hat! What about the Blue Hat? You’ll have to come to the program to find out what the Blue Hat is for!

Super Sleuth (Chemical Science) -Grades 3 & 4

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Do you have super-sleuthing skills? Can you solve riddles, follow clues and deduce what happened? Will you be able to use scientific methods to nab the culprit? If you think you can, then this program’s for you!

Each week there will be a mystery to solve. It could be a theft, a disappearance or some other type of crime. You will learn about CSI techniques that will help you investigate each incident. You will also be given clues and riddles to solve. Your job will be to use everything you learn to solve the crimes.

But there’s an added twist! The perpetrator is one of the students in the class! A traitor!!! Can you work out who it is each week? This program will present a true challenge to your intellectual prowess and sleuthing skills.

Who Stole the Sustainability Key? (Environmental Science) -Grades 3 & 4

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In this program our job will be to find out who ‘stole’ the ‘Sustainability Key’. First of all we’ll explore what sustainability really is and how it might have been stolen. Then we’ll look for clues, examine evidence, build a case and bring down a verdict. Finally, we’ll decide what the guilty parties need to do to restore sustainability to our world.

During this program you will use some thinking strategies such as ‘Bums Up, Heads Down’ and ‘Thought and Sort’. You’ll also learn heaps about the environment and ways to protect it from being damaged. But most importantly, you will solve the clues to find out who really stole the Sustainability Key.

Science Secret (Chemical Science) -Grades 5 & 6

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Renowned criminal, Professor Deklin Hyde, has committed another crime! Never before caught, Professor Hyde has the police baffled yet again. His secret is in the science. Every time he commits a crime, Professor Hyde uses science to fool the police.

But this time might be different. Can you find out Professor Hyde’s science secret and solve the mystery? You’ll need to conduct a range of science experiments then work out which one the Professor used to cover up his crime.

Apply only if you’re game!

Global Power Sleuth (Renewable Energy / Geography) -Grades 5 & 6

Global Power

Traditional power sources around the world are drying up and world governments are desperate to find new, sustainable and environmentally-friendly sources of energy.

Until recently Professor Powermoore has been travelling the globe investigating geographical features that could be harnessed to generate power. Unfortunately Professor Powermoore died before making any recommendations about potential power sources. Your company, Global Association for Supply of Power (GASP), has been called in to take over his mission.

When you complete your investigation you will be required to present a report explaining where and how the world will obtain its future power supplies. Your report will include available geographical sources of energy and how electricity will be generated without negatively impacting on the environment.

Despite Professor Powermoore’s untimely death, he unwittingly left you some clues to help you with your mission. You have all the postcards he sent while travelling and if you can deduce where he travelled and what he saw, you will find some potential power sources.

During this mission you’ll play the ‘Global Geography Game’ each week and you’ll use creative thinking to come up with solutions to the world’s future power needs. If you succeed, all world citizens will be forever grateful.


Invent That! (Technology / Creativity) -Grades 1 & 2

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Are you good at building things? Can you think of ideas for new gadgets and gizmos? In this program you will have a chance to think of new ideas and design your own invention.

We’ll ask and answer some questions about famous inventors and inventions. For example: Where do inventors get their ideas? What kinds of problems did they have? What did Alexander Graham Bell invent? What mistake did the first man to invent roller skates make? What did the first talking doll say? What popular game was invented based on crosswords?

During this program you’ll be able to build a model of your inventive idea and draw an advertisement to sell it. Will you invent something people will want to buy? You’ll definitely find out when you do this program!

Message from Yunan (Technology / Communications) -Grades 1 & 2

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Do you like building things? Can you solve problems? Are you good at writing important messages? If your answer is ‘yes’, this program may be for you. Imagine this…

Earlier this year NASA sent some children to investigate a new planet, called Yunan. (Do you know anyone who went?) Now NASA has sent you back to Yunan with your family to find out more about the planet. During your visit, you make the most amazing discovery. It could change everything! People will be so happy to hear about your discovery. What do you think it might be?

You are about to ring NASA to let everyone on Earth know about your discovery when your mobile phone breaks. How are you going to get a message to NASA? Luckily NASA gave you the equipment to make a Message Box that may solve your problem. Unfortunately they forgot to include the assembly instructions! But if you can work out how to build the Message Box then you can send your message to NASA. Don’t forget to write your message first though!

In this program you will be given all the materials you need. Your job will be to make the Message Box work and send a message before it’s too late. Can you do it?

Seven Wonders of The World (Geography) -Grades 3 & 4

Seven Wonders

Ever wondered about the 7 wonders of the world? Did you hear that on 07.07.07 a new 7 wonders were announced? Did you know there are lots of other ‘7 Wonders’ such as the ‘7 Wonders of the Underwater World’? What about the ‘8th Wonder’?

But this program isn’t just about investigating the wonders. You will be given a budget to plan your world trip to visit the wonders of your choice. You can work in a small team or by yourself. Your challenge will be to plan the trip of a lifetime within the budget. In addition you’ll have to research travel, accommodation, eating, languages and weather. Then there’s the list of things to pack!

Just in case you think that’s all there is to it, don’t forget there’ll be a 7 Wonders Mystery to solve each week. For example, what local ‘ship’ building almost became one of the 7 New Wonders?

Spies Inc. (Codes & Ciphers) -Grades 3 & 4

Spies Inc

Spies Inc. is a company that provides spying services to anyone in need. You have been accepted for the Spies Inc. training course where you will learn how to make, break and fake all sorts of tricky codes and ciphers. This skill will turn you into a Superspy who can undertake secret missions for Spies Inc.

However, when you arrive for your first day of training you will find out that everything is not as it seems. Spies Inc. has a mole amongst its existing spies and your task will be to find out who it is. Is it Clueless Cathy, Braindrain Brian or one of the other spies? You’ll have to be a quick learner to solve this mystery by the last week of your training.

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