Winner of Flash Fiction Contest #6

What fabulous stories in the Carrot Ranch #Contest 6 Bucking Bull go round, lead by the winner Kerry E.B. Black. Congratulations, Kerry, and to all the runners up, and entrants alike. Judge D. Avery says the judging was difficult. Reading these stories, that seems obvious. Well done, everyone!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Buckin' Bull Gp-Round Winner Carrot Ranch @Charli_MillsBucking Bull Go-Round

By D. Avery

 The dust from the activities and events of the Flash Fiction Rodeo is still settling like snowflakes around Carrot Ranch while old friends and new continue to gather around the warming fire that Charli Mills stokes for us all. With still more winners to be disclosed, even the hype and anticipation of Christmas pales in comparison to the excitement of the rodeo.

My hat is off to the twenty-nine brave writers who took on the challenge of the Bucking Bull Go-Round event, in which they had to write a story in exactly 107 words and eight sentences, demonstrating style and control even as their unique two-word prompt twists and bucks, determined to dislodge these fearless flash fiction contestants. All rode well, making the responsibility of declaring a winner a wild ride of its own. I am immensely grateful to my two co-judges for…

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How do you perform?

theatre seating

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills talks about her years as a ballet-Mum, working behind the scenes to ensure the performers were ready to take to the stage.

She talks about the pleasure of watching from theatre stalls, a recent performance of dancers taught by the daughter she’d taken to lessons all those years before.

She sees connections between her role as stage-Mom and her role as Lead Buckaroo at the Carrot Ranch; and similarities between ballet performances and performing with flash fiction.

This, of course led to the week’s flash fiction prompt in which Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write that features a performance. You can interpret what is a performance any way the prompt leads you.

There is little in which Charli is unable to find an analogy to writing. Likewise, I am always keen to find the connections, similarities and analogies to teaching. I have long considered teaching to have elements consistent with entertaining and performing, with our classroom the stage, and the students the interactive audience, the participants for whom and by whom the daily enactment evolves. Regardless of how we feel, each day we enter our classrooms ready to perform, determined to give our students the best educational experience possible.

But I am also familiar with other performances. I performed in many plays as part of studying Speech and Drama throughout school. Both children had a big interest in drama at school also, and I spent many hours ferrying them to classes around the city, making costumes, and watching rehearsals as well as final performances.

As a teacher, I would provide opportunities for children to role play, improvise impromptu scenarios, create puppet plays, and perform songs or plays for parents throughout the year.

Then there are the other impromptu performances that toddlers are great at turning on when the inappropriate moment takes them.

Tonight, I had the pleasure of viewing a presentation, rather than performance, of a story written by local author Yvonne Mes. The story A Starry Christmas was animated and displayed in a spectacular light show on Brisbane City Hall. What an amazing way to have one’s work shared. Congratulations must go to Yvonne for writing the story, and the teams who animated it and produced it. You can watch a video of the story and read some additional information about the event on Yvonne’s website here.

I thought I’d combine a few of these ideas into my response to Charli’s flash fiction prompt this week. I hope you enjoy it.

Christmas lights

A two-day city visit is never enough, but they were determined – trekking the city, visiting in-store Santas, viewing Christmas-dressed windows, watching street performers, even attending a pantomime, with just a brief playground stop for lunch. The light show was the day’s finale.  The tired parents and niggly children collapsed onto the lawn in anticipation. Suddenly the littlest began to perform – crying, screaming, stamping, flailing. Nothing would soothe. The eldest observed, zombie-like. Soon the light-show distracted, occasionally interrupting the performance. Only when the fireworks began, drowning out his cries, did he give in to sleep, sprawled indecorously on the grass.

Thank you blog post

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

 

Smorgasbord Christmas Posts from Your Archives – 10 reasons for including Christmas in the classroom by Norah Colvin

I’m honoured to once again be featured among Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Archive Posts. This time it’s about including Christmas in the classroom. Thank you, Sally. 🙂

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Today we continue with the series of posts from the archives of educator Norah Colvin.  Norah talks us through making a very special Christmas decoration.

10 reasons for including Christmas in the classroom by Norah Colvin

The end of the school year in Australia is fast approaching; assessment is almost done and reports completed.

After a hectic year, thoughts are turning towards Christmas and the long summer holidays.

However the teaching and learning in the classroom doesn’t stop until the final farewells on the last day of school.

These last few weeks of the school year allow a little more flexibility and time for spontaneous explorations of children’s interests after the curriculum’s imposed learnings have been achieved. Sure, skills still need to be practised and extended but the pressure is not so relentless.

As the thoughts of most children are on Christmas and what they will do during the…

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readilearn – 6 Fine motor Christmas activities for the classroom and home – Readilearn

In this post, I welcome early childhood educator Johanna Clark to the blog with ideas for developing fine motor skills in fun Christmas activities that are suitable for both the classroom and home.

These activities supplement existing readilearn Christmas activities and suggestions that can be provided to parents to keep children engaged in reading, writing and mathematical thinking over the holidays.

Johanna Clark is an early childhood educator, with a background in early primary teaching. She is passionate about developing children’s early literacy and fine-motor skills in the years before formal schooling begins to build a solid foundation for learning. She believes in creating a classroom that children love coming to every day, and that helps all children to succeed.

In her spare time, she can be found reading or crocheting (or both!). She also combines her teaching and creativity by designing handmade, educational toys for her small business and Etsy shop, ‘Jo and Co. Design’. She specialises in crochet dolls and felt travel games.

She has two small children who love testing out her new toy designs and raiding her picture book collection!

Over to you Johanna.

Whether December in your classroom means the end of the school year or the end of the calendar year, it’s always fun to work some Christmas-themed activities into the schedule. It’s a great way to discuss students’ own experiences and expose them to different ways of celebrating, both around the world or in their own community.

Fine motor skills are so important to develop, in pre-school settings, the first 3 years of schooling and beyond! They allow children to build their hand-eye coordination, concentration and finger/hand/arm muscles. All of these skills are needed for pencil grip, using scissors and other general life skills such as buttoning, zipping and using cutlery.

So why not combine fine-motor skills and Christmas?

Following are some ideas for Christmas themed fine motor activities that can be used both in the early years classroom and at home. Most are suitable for small groups or independent work and some can even be used to decorate your classroom and share the festive spirit!

Continue reading: readilearn – 6 Fine motor Christmas activities for the classroom and home – Readilearn

Winner of Flash Fiction Contest #5

Congratulations to everyone who entered Contest #5 Twitter Flash Fiction, but huge congratulations to D. Avery winner! What a challenge! Check out her entry and others over at the Carrot Ranch.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

In Challenge 5 of the Carrot Ranch Rodeo, writers were tasked with writing a complete 99-word story using Twitter. Of course, we couldn’t make it that simple. Every #Twitterflash story also had to be 11 sentences with exactly 9 words each. We included a ridiculously long set of rules, but everyone #rosetothechallenge and the results were amazing. In fact, the judges’ scoring sheets all had multiple sets of high-scoring ties. So without further ado…

Winner: D. Avery @daveryshiftn

On his fourth birthday his dad went to prison.

Shortly before his eighth birthday his dad was paroled.

His mom and dad partied together until she od’d.

The man called dad left her, left him, again.

He searched the house in vain for hidden presents.

He found needles, empty bottles and some uneaten oreos.

He ate in silence, imagining that she only slept.

Twisting each oreo apart, licking the filling, he knew.

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The art of choosing – self-care

This week, Charli Mills challenged the Carrot Ranch Literary Community to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes self-care. Does the character need it? What does the character do? Think about how you can use this action to deepen a character or move a story. Go where the prompt leads. She talks about being easy on ourselves and taking time to celebrate our progress and avoid being shackled by the imposter syndrome that masquerades as our harshest critic.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo is also talking about self-care this week on her blog Thriving Under Pressure. Her post urges us to Work hard. Rest. Repeat, and recommends

“If you get tired, learn to rest not quit.”

Resting can be difficult when there is much we want to do and achieve, both personally and professionally; but sometimes, if we don’t rest by choice, we have it thrust upon us.

This week, when I’m already masquerading as an overposter, as a mini-rest, an exercise in self-care, and care for you too, I’m presenting my flash response without the padding of a post. Here it is. I hope you like it.

Rest. In. Peace.

“You really should take a break,” they suggested.

“I can’t. Too much to do.”

“You need time off,” they said.

“I know. Soon.”

Eventually, “I’m taking a break,” she said.

The afternoon sun warmed as the sand caressed her aching body. Her eyes closed. Only an occasional seagull’s squawk interrupted the repetitive swoo-oosh of the waves that jumbled with the office cacophony looping incessantly.

“What? What happened?” they asked.

He scrolled quickly, searching for details.

“Sleeping. On beach. Seagull – ha!– dropped a baby turtle – landed on her head – died instantly.”

“And we thought work would kill her!”

Thank you blog post

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

 

 

That’s what friends are for

At this time of year, minds and hearts turn to friends and family, and contemplations of what we can do to make the world a better place. When we think of global events, we may feel overwhelmed, wondering what possible effect our actions could have. But when we focus on our own circle, any positive difference we make can effect changes of which we may never be aware. That’s the ripple effect, and that’s what friends are for.

I belong to a very supportive online community whose encouragement helps to keep me going.

With my focus on education, particularly early childhood education, and their work mostly targeting adult audiences, I struggle to find ways of supporting them and their creative pursuits during the year, other than the usual shares on Twitter and Facebook.

However, come Christmas time, what’s to stop me doing a little more?

love of reading to young children in early childhood education

In a recent readilearn post, I acknowledged authors and illustrators of children’s literature whom I was fortunate enough to interview throughout the year. You can read that post here. I was also delighted to be invited by Christy Birmingham to write a guest post about them for her blog When Women Inspire.

SMAG Society of Mutual Admiration and Gratitude

In this post, I acknowledge and promote recent works published by my SMAG community; lovely people who support me both here and over at readilearn. SMAG is an acronym for Society of Mutual Appreciation and Gratitude. The community is open to anyone. All that is required is friendship. If you’d like to add the badge to your blog, I’d be honoured. If you’re not sure how to do so, you can find instructions here.

I know I won’t catch all my SMAGgers, but I’ll do my best. If I miss you, I apologise. Please add your details in the comments.

I hope as you read through my list your will find some books to add to your own collection or to gift to another for Christmas, or holiday, or anytime reading.

Carrot Ranch

My first acknowledgement goes to Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch Literary Community.

Participation in the Carrot Ranch weekly flash fiction challenges inspires many of the posts shared here. The support of Charli, Lead Buckaroo, and the team of Rough Writers has been a constant source of encouragement.

Congress of Rough Writers Anthology Vol 1

While we eagerly await the publication of Charli’s two novels-in-progress, she has compiled an anthology of flash fiction submitted to the weekly prompts. The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Volume 1 will be available soon. I am rather delighted to say that some of my writing features in the Anthology. (Check out books by other Rough Writers featured on the Books page.)

Anne Goodwin

Anne Goodwin's books

I very much enjoyed Anne Goodwin’s debut novel Sugar and Snails, and was not disappointed with her second novel Underneath, released earlier this year. Anne is also a prolific writer of short stories, many of which are available from her website. An anthology (Annethology) will be available soon. I’ve yet to read a story of Anne’s I didn’t like.

Sarah Brentyn

Sarah Brentyn's books

Sarah is a micro-fiction expert. She packs a whole lot of story into just a few words. I described her first book Hinting at Shadows as a box of chocolates – bite-sized pieces of dark delight; once you’ve tasted you can’t stop! Her second anthology On the Edge of a Raindrop, just released, holds equal promise.

Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle's books

If you haven’t yet checked out Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate Books you really must. Robbie’s unique style of illustrating her stories with fondant creations will make your mouth water.

The Sir Chocolate Books series of stories were written by Robbie and her son Michael. The rhyming stories are supplemented by the inclusion of recipes and links to YouTube videos.

Debby Gies

Debby Gies books

Debby Gies writes memoir; stories from her life and her heart; stories that will resonate with us, inspire us, make us laugh, and make us cry. When I read Have Bags Will Travel, I couldn’t believe how much of my experience she was sharing.

Debby has numerous books in her collection, including her new release Twenty Years: After “I Do. I’m sure you’ll find at least one to take your fancy.

Christy Birmingham

Christy Birmingham Versions of the Self

Christy Birmingham’s book of poems Versions of the Self is an exploration of the emotions experienced in relationships and the personal growth that occurs through them.

D. Avery

D. Avery Chicken Shift For the Girls

D. Avery’s books of poems make excellent reading. Chicken Shift combines philosophy, humour and utter nonsense by contemplating answers to the old riddle “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Who would have thought there could be so many responses? – Only D.

For the girls explores responses to a diagnosis of breast cancer and what it means personally and to others. It’s a must read for anyone whose life has been touched by cancer. There are few of  us who haven’t supported a loved one as they work through their emotional, as well as physical, response.

Sally Cronin

Sally Cronin's books

Sally Cronin is a prolific author of both fiction and non-fiction. Her most recent publication What’s in a Name? Stories of Life and Romance Volume 2 is a book of short stories in which she explores why we find the names of some people memorable.

Sally is also an amazing support for writers and all things writing. I was delighted to be recently featured in her series Posts from my Archives here and here. Thank you, Sally.

Susan Scott

Susan Scott Aging and Becoming

This year Susan Scott published Aging and Becoming – A Reflective Inquiry, which she cowrote with Susan E. Schwartz. The Susans reflect on life and its effects on the physical, mental and emotional experience as we age. Throughout the year, Susan shared excerpts on her lovely Garden of Eden blog.

Not just books

Pauline King has many lovely crafts and artworks for sale in her Contented Crafter’s Gift Shop.

Robin Etter-Cleave plays Notes from Squire Street on her melodic alto flute.

For an early childhood teacher, a readilearn subscription makes a thoughtful gift. Contact me for details.

For other suggestions, check out last year’s list here.

Apologies again if I have missed your current publications. Please know that each of you is greatly appreciated. The purpose of writing is to connect with readers. If you “like” or share a post, that is wonderful. If you leave a comment and engage in conversation, that is even better still. Thank you.

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