Monthly Archives: November 2017

Be Inspired by Women Writers and Illustrators

I am very honoured to be invited to write a guest post for Christy Birmingham to feature on her lovely blog When Women Inspire.
I wrote about the inspirational female authors and illustrators I interviewed this year.
Please pop over to Christy’s blog to read the full post.

When Women Inspire

Today I proudly welcome educator and writer Norah Colvin here to guest post. I was delighted when she accepted my offer to visit and chat about some of the women she has highlighted on her website so far in their roles as writers and illustrators for children’s books. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did upon receiving it. Norah, the floor is yours.

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Winner of Flash Fiction Contest #4

What fabulous entries in Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #4 scars – how difficult it must have been to choose one winner. Well done, everyone!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Scars

By Irene Waters

During October, the Rodeo, which was the brain child of Charli Mills from Carrot Ranch, gave us a wonderful opportunity to put ourselves outside our comfort zones by writing different forms and genres. Personally, I found it difficult, challenging but always fun and judging by the number of repeat entries, so did many others.

It was a pleasure to lead the fourth contest and come up with a topic and judging criteria. The topic – Scars – was inspired by a quote by Stephen King – whose book on writing should be read, I believe, by all aspiring writers. He wrote “Writers remember everything … especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he’ll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you…

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Mr Potato Head

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Five a DayEvery week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenges writers to respond to a prompt with 99-word flash fiction. The prompts provide an opportunity to practice craft while having a little fun in a supportive writing community. Although participation is voluntary and never prescribed, the benefits to mind and spirit equal the benefits to physical health by the five-a-day servings of fruit and vegetables recommended by many health departments around the world.

 

This week, Charli challenged writers to in 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Five a Day. It does not have to be five servings of fruits and vegetables. What is needed five times a day? Have fun with what pops to mind for the prompt.

It’s a good thing Charli not only allows, but encourages, writers to “Go where the prompt leads”, as I’m not always satisfied with the obvious, literal interpretation. My mind jumps about like a rabbit in a vegetable patch, trying out different thoughts and ideas.

While Charli was talking about the five serves of fruit and vegetables as day for our physical health, I wondered about essentials for mental health that help us navigate each day.

sweet hearts

Mental health

How about a daily dose of these?

  • Self-worth – a sense of being valued, of having the right to occupy space in the world
  • Confidence – a willingness to approach tasks and face what life brings
  • Trust – an ability to trust others and feel safe in one’s environment
  • Empathy – making connections with others on a deep level
  • Compassion – giving and accepting kindness, contributing to a positive community and environment

What would you add?

I also wondered about the essentials for nurturing children’s growth and development. What would those five servings a day be?

girl child dancing

Children’s needs

First and foremost, children need to be loved and to have their physical needs met; for example food, water and warmth. They are givens.

Then to have their minds stimulated, every day, they need adults to:

  • Talk with them
  • Read to them
  • Sing songs with them
  • Play with them, and
  • Laugh with them.

What would you add?

world earth map

The world’s needs

And what about for the world, what do we all need?

  • Friendship
  • Understanding
  • Tolerance
  • Empathy
  • Peace

What would you add?

Why don’t children like vegetables?

But let’s get back to Charli’s five, and children. Sometimes getting children to eat their five serves of fruit and vegetables a day can be difficult. While fruit is often enjoyed, vegetables are frequently rejected. Researchers have investigated reasons for children’s refusal to eat vegetables and found these reasons (reported here and here):

  • Children burn lots of energy and need foods that are high in calories – vegetables aren’t.
  • Children are generally more sensitive to bitter tastes, which are often nature’s warning of toxicity.
  • Children have not yet learned through repeated taste tests and observations that vegetables are safe to eat.
  • Children associate vegetables with unpleasant situations (parental nagging) and associate other “treats” with more pleasant situations.

vegetables

How to get your children to eat vegetables

Suggestions include:

  • Reduce the natural bitterness by adding salt, sugar and other flavours
  • Serve small amounts of vegetables with other foods familiar to children
  • Present vegetables in different ways and repeated times
  • Avoid using food as reward or punishment and don’t nag

Of course, there are the old camouflage tricks – dress them up like a funny face – or play games like the “aeroplane” spoon trying to land food in the mouth.

What works for you?

Thanks Pixabay!

Thinking about the relevance of bitterness to toxicity and food refusal in children got me thinking about dementia patients who refuse food, believing it to be poisoned. I did a quick internet search (not very thorough) but could see only articles in which food refusal was linked to paranoia.

I wonder, with their changing realities and sensitivities, could they become more sensitive to certain tastes? Could taste contribute as much as the paranoia. Many would find it no easier to express than children. I’m certainly no expert, and it’s an uneducated thought, but it’s the thought that’s led me to my flash fiction response. I hope you enjoy it.

Mr Potato Head

Jamie’s head shook, and his bottom lip protruded as tears pooled.

Mum sighed.

“But you love Mr Potato Head,” coaxed Dad.

Jamie lowered his eyes and pushed the plate away. This was not Mr Potato – just a stupid face made from yukky stuff.

Dad moved it back. “Just a little try,” he urged. Mum watched.

Jamie refused.

Jamie visited at meal time. Mum was in tears. “He won’t eat anything.”

Jamie considered the unappetising mush. “Who would?” he thought, as he replaced the cover and opened dessert.

“May as well enjoy what you can,” he said. Dad smiled.

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

 

readilearn: Celebrating Christmas in the classroom

As December draws nigh, thoughts all over the world turn to celebrations of Christmas, a time for spreading joy through sharing acts of friendship and kindness to others.

Those of us in the Southern Hemisphere are also thinking about finalising the school year and taking a much-deserved long summer break.

Before we do, we look for ways of celebrating Christmas in the classroom while maintaining children’s focus and keeping them engaged in meaningful learning until the final moments of the school year.

While there are a variety of readilearn resources already existing to help you do that, this week I have uploaded four more, all of which support use of the popular interactive digital story Who’s hiding at Christmas?

Who's hiding at Christmas template

The Who’s hiding at Christmas -template is a printable resource with both template and instructions for children to make their own Who’s Hiding at Christmas book based upon the original. Children love to share their own Who am I? puzzles, and, as well as providing ongoing practise with both reading and writing skills, the booklets make a lovely gift for sibling or parent.

Continue reading: Celebrating Christmas in the classroom

Smorgasbord Posts From Your Archives – What You Don’t Know by Norah Colvin

I have the very great honour of being featured among the lovely Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives series on Sally’s Cronin‘s blog. Sally has graciously shared one of my earlier posts What you don’t know.
Thank you, Sally, I am delighted to be featured on your blog.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

We begin a series of posts by educator Norah Colvin who shares her thoughts on our approach to learning as individuals… we have all heard the expressions that ‘ignorance is bliss’ ‘What you don’t know won’t hurt you’ but shouldn’t we be the judge of that. The desire to learn and keep learning whatever age you are, is a gift that is not offered to everyone. Are we making the most of that gift?

What You Don’t Know by Norah Colvin

 One of my favourite quotes is that of Manuel in the BBC television series Fawlty Towers: “I know nothing.” I love quoting this but, just like Manuel, I too am learning. And what a wonderful gift it is to be able to learn.

Recently I read a post  This time it’s Personal by Tony Burkinshaw on his blog.

He explained unconscious incompetence in the following way: “

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#WATWB Children helping children

I love to be inspired by positive stories about education, especially about empowering children, and about empowered children helping those in need.

That I can share those stories once a month in the We are the World Blogfest is an extra bonus.

The purpose of #WATWB is to spread good news stories around the world, to shine a light when much around is looking dismal. We are asked to link to a human news story that shows love, humanity and brotherhood and explain why it touched us.

Each month different members of the group host the blogfest. Hosts this month are Shilpa Garg, Inderpreet Uppal, Sylvia Stein, Susan Scott, Andrea Michaels and Damyanti Biswas . Please stop by their posts to check out other good news stories and say, “Hi”.

If you would like to join in by sharing a good news story you have read this month, click here to enter your link.

The story I wish to share, I read in a post published on the Student Blogging Challenge. Miss W. wrote about Mahika Halepete, a year 8 student who presented a talk at a conference about youth empowerment attended by Miss W.

Mahika has created her own non-profit organization. Her aim is to “empower young people (ages 12 to 25) in developing countries to design and implement projects that solve problems affecting them and their communities.”

In the post, Miss W. includes a video of Mahika performing her own song. It’s worth a listen.

Miss W. also outlines her personal actions that aim to have a positive impact, both locally and globally, on the world. In addition, she lists world problems that require solutions, and challenges teachers and students to consider ways of helping. Although the post addresses those involved in the Student Blogging Challenge, the problems and suggestions are ones any of us could consider.

I do hope you find these initiatives as inspiring as I do.

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

 

Winner of Flash Fiction Contest #3

Do you know what a septolet is? Did you enter the Septolets in Motion #FFRodeo Contest #3? Whether you answered yes or no, check out the winning entries to read great stories and find out what a septolet is. I didn’t know before I entered the contest. Now I do! And guess what? I even got an honourable mention. Thank you Judge Jules! 🙂

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Septolet in Motion Contest Results

By JulesPaige

Thank you to all who ‘Spelled’ a bit of magic by entering Septolet in Motion either in the Contest or Challenge arenas. The short Selptolet verse of fourteen words in two parts totaling fourteen lines intertwined in a short fiction piece cast magic for Susan Z, Susan B and Jules. We used a point system through blind judging. Then Jules averaged the scores. Our winner is Deborah Lee.

Practical Magic, Or Even Best Efforts Need a Push Sometimes

By Deborah Lee

She pauses in the vestibule by the elevator outside the law firm doors. Beyond the window the sky looms gray over twenty-five stories of air filled with drizzle.

Another interview over. For better or worse.

No. For better, this time.

She examines the cuffs of her blouse, new-to-her from the thrift store, not frayed, nicely white. Her slacks bag a bit; she’s…

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