Honouring Eric Carle, Children’s Author and Illustrator – #readilearn

This is a special month for me. It is my birthday month. It is also the birthday month of one of children’s literature’s favourite authors and illustrators, Eric Carle. I had already planned to write a post about Eric Carle’s books during this month of his birth. It seems even more important now since he passed away in May, just a month before his 92nd birthday on 25 June  — such a loss to the kidlit community, but what a legacy he has left.

Eric Carle was a prolific author and illustrator of children’s picture books. He wrote and illustrated more than 70 books. I’m sure everyone knows at least one, and probably several, of Carle’s books. There are possibly several of his books on the shelves of every early childhood and lower primary classroom. Everyone will have their favourites, but I think possibly the best known and the one that comes to mind first for many people is The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

In this post, I list ten of my favourite Eric Carle books and suggest at least one teaching idea for each.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Continue reading: Honouring Eric Carle, Children’s Author and Illustrator – Readilearn

Saddle Up Saloon; Chattin’ With Norah Colvin

I had a great chat with my fellow Ranch-hand, writer and educator, D. Avery over at the Saddle Up Saloon at the Carrot Ranch. We discussed my favourite topics – children, education and writing. Not your usual saloon fare, eh? A bit dry for Kid and Pal too.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

“Hey Kid. Kinda quiet ‘round the Saloon. Ain’tcha got anythin’ lined up?”

“Nope. But as ya kin see, Pal, there’s a few folks in jist relaxin’ an’ chattin’ over a bev’rage a choice.”

“Yeah, I see thet. Look there, is that Norah Colvin?”

“Yep. Says she’s waitin’ on a buddy a hers.”

“Reckon thet buddy is here. Why it’s—”

“D. Avery? Them two’s buddies? What a they have in common?”

“Well, they both know their way ‘roun’ the Ranch.”

“Reckon, but Norah Colvin’s respectable an’ all, an’ our writer’s so…”

“Jist serve ‘em both Kid an’ leave ‘em be.”

******************************************************************************

Hello Norah! I’m so glad we have a place where we can finally hang out together. But it seems Kid is wondering that we’re buddies.

Hello D.

Buddies! I like that. Buddies is not a term commonly used in Australia, so I think this is the first time I’ve ever…

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Writer in Residence

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a new way to office. Has the office changed? Can we return to normal after big changes or time away? Go where the prompt leads!

As a teacher who also loved to write, I used to love inspiring and nurturing a love of writing in my children. The desire equalled my love of reading and of picture books. We wrote together every day (they wrote, and I wrote at the same time). We often wrote collaboratively, authoring stories, songs, and poems together before they wrote their own. They wrote independently and of their own volition, especially in free time. I, and they, would often say, “That would make a good story.” I loved reading and responding to the messages they wrote to me in a daily diary that gave me a window into their lives and the things that were important to them.

To encourage their writing, there was always a great variety of paper, pens and other essential equipment available to them. While I didn’t ever have a desk such as I describe in my flash fiction (it is fiction, you see), I can just imagine how they would have loved it and how they would have imagined themselves at it while writing in the office (writing corner). I hope you can imagine it too.

Writer in Residence

The large old oak writer’s desk with multiple drawers, pigeon holes, an ink well and leather writing mat faced the room.

Upon it, a multitude of cups stocked with pencils, pens and other writing and drawing tools sat ready. The pigeon holes held a magnificence of paper and cardboard, and the drawers essentials like scissors, glue, rulers, lettering guides, clips and stapler. It was a writer’s paradise — perfect for the daily Writer in Residence.

The children loved it. Especially when they were Writer for the day with freedom to organise, reorganise and create to their heart’s content — growing writers.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

#Bookreview: Two delightful children’s books by Norah Colvin

I was absolutely surprised and delighted to find a review of my two picture books that have been published by Library For All on Robbie’s Cheadle’s blog Robbie’s Inspiration. Thank you, Robbie. Please pop over to Robbie’s blog to read her reviews.
But before you go, I’d like to tell you a little about Library For All.
Library For All is an Australian not for profit organisation with a mission to “make knowledge accessible to all, equally” through a digital library of books that is available free to anyone anywhere in the world.
The focus is on providing high quality, engaging, age appropriate and culturally relevant books to children in developing countries and remote areas. The stories are often donated by authors, as were my two, or written in collaboration with local people in the communities they support.
You can find out more on their website Library For All or in a post I wrote about them a few years ago when these books were first published Library For All — A Force for Equality through Literacy.
Now, over to Robbie’s.

Robbie's inspiration

I bought these two delightful books for very young children for my two year old nice. The illustrations are colourful and bright and the stories are adorable.

My review of Wombat Digs In by Norah Colvin

Wombat Digs In by Norah Colvin for Library for All

This is an adorable book for small children about a wombat who is struggling to keep up with some of the other animals including the kangaroos who can bounce, the possums who can climb, and the fruit bats who can fly. Wombat is feeling a little dejected, but when Baby Koala falls out of the tree, Wombat’s own special skill of digging comes to the forefront. This little book is illustrated with simple and bright pictures that small children will love.

My review of Let’s Move by Norah Colvin

Let's Move by Norah Colvin for Library for All

This is a delightful little book for teaching very young children about animals and movement. The illustrations are adorable and I particularly liked the snails…

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Picture Books about the Environment — a selection – #readilearn

Sharing picture books with young children is one of my favourite things. Picture books can fill children’s minds with wonder, curiosity and imagination, and their hearts with love. Picture books lead them gently into the world beyond their own front doors. They allow children to explore the previously unexplored in the comfort and safety of their own familiar surroundings, at home or at school.

In this post, I share some books that will help children develop an interest in and concern for the environment through reading and discussion.

Ethicool Books

A good place to start is with publisher Ethicool Books. I recently interviewed Stuart French, the founder, who explained their goal of engaging children in discussions about issues such as climate change, ocean pollution, poverty and gender equality through stories told in their beautiful picture books. While you can find a full list of their books on their website, these are some of my favourites:

Remembering Mother Nature by Stuart French introduces children to the concept of Mother Nature and encourages them to take an active interest in the environment and help to save the planet.

My Rainforest Classroom by Stuart French introduces children to the beauty of the world’s environments and its inhabitants. It shows how easily the environment can be damaged and urges them to take action to protect it.

Continue reading: Picture Books about the Environment — a selection – Readilearn

Unleashed #Flashfiction

Leashed flash fiction prompt

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story being leashed. Is it literal or metaphorical? Who or what is leashed. How does it set the tone? Go where the prompt leads!

I know the term leashed, and consequently unleased, refers specifically to dogs, and that is how Charli used it. However, I am not particularly familiar with dogs, either leashed or unleashed, so decided for the metaphorical interpretation of being held captive and, conversely, set free.

I usually try to conjure a story about children or education, or possibly an idea that I may be able to work into a publishable picture book manuscript one day. However, I didn’t realise I’d done that this time. Until I had.

I was thinking of slinky toys and the practical joke that uses a (fake) snake springing out of a can. I combined the two ideas, thinking how awesome it would be to release (unleash) a whole lot of slinky toys at the top of some stairs at the same time. When I finished writing, I realised that I’d repeated my thoughts about schooling and education once again. I even wondered if it had a theme similar to The Nightingale by Hans Christian Andersen. Let me know what you think.

Unleashed

It began harmlessly with a mini-slinky party favour in a birthday bag. The sparkles mesmerised Jamie as it tumbled end over end down the driveway or stairs. Soon it became an obsession. Swapping favours at birthday parties, pleading for them in supermarkets, Jamie hoarded them in a can carried everywhere. The obsession progressed from sparkles to numbers as the can filled. Eventually, no more slinkies would fit. As Jamie pressed and squeezed, the recalcitrant can tipped. Slinkies erupted, springing to life. As they danced away, sparkling in the sunlight, Jamie was captivated. Even slinkies need freedom to be themselves.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Meet author Karen Tyrrell and the fifth exciting Song Bird Superhero adventure: Drought Rescue – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to reintroduce you to Karen Tyrrell with the fifth of her books in the Song Bird Superhero series. Each of the books in the series encourages children to believe in themselves and their ability to make a positive difference.

In each adventure, Song Bird tackles a problem facing a different environment and empowers children with knowledge they can use to protect our precious world.

With World Environment Day occurring tomorrow on 5 June, Karen couldn’t have picked a better time to launch her book.

About Karen Tyrrell

Karen Tyrrell is an award-winning author and former teacher who coordinated science at her school. Karen and hubby, Steve won an Arts Queensland stART grant to travel to Winton and Longreach to research Song Bird: Drought Rescue.

As a girl, Karen dreamed of flying. Now she soars via alter ego Song Bird, superhero. Karen’s eleven books connect children with their inner superheroes. Her characters empower kids to live strong, develop team-building skills and grow resilience to deal with bullying.

Karen lives in Brisbane, Quensland, where she presents FUN storytelling sessions and creative writing workshops at schools, libraries and festivals.

Kids Helpline supports Karen’s books, STOP the Bully and Bailey Beats the Blah. The Queensland Department of Environment and Science supports Song Bird: Rainforest Rescue and Song Bird: Great Barrier Reef Rescue.

About Song Bird: Drought Rescue

Continue reading: Meet author Karen Tyrrell and the fifth exciting Song Bird Superhero adventure: Drought Rescue – readilearn

Tiny Flying Insects #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes tiny flying insects. Think about how the insects shape the scene or add to the action. Go where the prompt leads!

Like many, I have a love-hate relationship with tiny flying insects. I love some. I hate some. Well, perhaps hate is too strong a word. I dislike their presence but appreciate their contribution to the environment, whether it be as decomposers or valuable food source.

My love list includes:

  • butterflies
  • bees
  • ladybirds
  • dragonflies

My not-so-much list includes:

  • cockroaches
  • flies
  • mosquitos
  • midges

These two groups probably lie at either end of the continuum with thousands more in between.

My fascination with these tiny creatures can be easily evidenced on readilearn, my collection of teaching resources for the first three years of school, where there are numerous resources devoted to minibeasts, especially bees, butterflies, and ladybirds.

Keeping caterpillars in the classroom and watching them progress through their life stages until metamorphosing into adult butterflies was one of the children’s and my favourite things. It is a wonderful way to enable children to see nature close up and develop an appreciation for these tiny creatures and their contribution to the environment. It encourages them to look more closely and with more wonder when exploring the outdoors.

It would be easy to write a story about one of the tiny flying insects that I love and more of a challenge to write about one that I love not-quite-so-much. However, I have previously written a story about a fly for an (imaginary) audience of young children. I share a 99-word synopsis of that story in response to Charli’s challenge. Let’s see what you think of it.

BBQ the Fly

Named for their favourite thing, BBQ’s parents farewelled their son on his first independent foray.

“You can! Avoid the can!” they called. BBQ had trained relentlessly, perfecting every manoeuvre — walking on ceilings, buzzing people and, especially, dodging the dreaded spray.

BBQ’s antennae zeroed in on a backyard barbecue where he chose a juicy sausage for his ritual dance. He had just extended his proboscis when a swarm muscled in. Through the crowd, one of his compound eyes caught the glint of something metallic —a can!

He retracted his proboscis and escaped just as the spray downed the unfortunate swarm.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Promoting Care of Our Environment in June – #readilearn

Every day is a good day for caring for our environment and for ensuring that the next generation accept their role in doing so with enthusiasm. However, in June, some days provide an opportunity for participating in an international movement focusing on the environment:

5 June World Environment Day

8 June World Oceans Day

22 June World Rainforest Day

Although Queensland Day on 6 June is not specifically about the environment, I’ve included it as it’s a celebration of my home state.

5 June World Environment Day

The theme of this year’s World Environment Day is “Reimagine. Recreate. Restore” focusing on ecosystem restoration.

You can find out more about how to be involved on the website and download a free Ecosystem Restoration Playbook here.

There are numerous readilearn resources about minibeasts and other animals such as turtles and alpacas to support learning about the environment and biodiversity. These can all be found in the science biology resources.

The teaching ideas for the International Year of Plant Health also support learning about the environment.

8 June World Oceans Day

World Oceans Day is a day for celebrating, protecting and conserving the world’s oceans. ‘The purpose of the Day is to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans.’

The theme for 2021 is ‘One Ocean, One Climate, One Future — Together”.

Here at readilearn we have many turtle-themed resources which are suitable for celebrating World Oceans Day, including:

Continue reading: Promoting Care of Our Environment in June – Readilearn

Without a Hat #flashfiction

This week a the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about naked gardening. Is it the veggies or the gardener who is naked? Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you like it.

Without a Hat

The farmer was out standing in the field when, one day, a wind whipped up and snatched his hat, tossing it into the air. It swooped over the garden beds as if playfully daring, ‘Come catch me.’ But the farmer couldn’t catch the hat which had been a fixture on his head for countless years. Everyone said he looked naked without it, but no other hat would do. Without it, he wilted in sun’s heat and sagged in rain. As the parading seasons took their toll, he disintegrated and decomposed, continuing to nourish the garden in a new way.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.