Monthly Archives: March 2020

Who's in charge flash fiction

Who’s in charge? #Flashfiction

Carrot Ranch - in charge flash fiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story in which a character takes charge. Who is this character, and what situation calls for their action? It can be playful or serious, fantastical, or realistic. Go where the prompt leads!

While not really about a character taking charge, as Charli suggested, my thoughts went to the stampede that occurred in supermarkets across the globe earlier this month, and I wondered who had initiated it and how they had achieved such a dramatic result. It seemed to me that it was more suited to an April Fools’ Day joke (that’s tomorrow, folks) than a serious event organised by the March Hare. Not that I would approve of such a joke.

I remember being warned in the early seventies (way back last century) about the use of subliminal messaging in cinema advertising. I never liked the idea that someone could be trying to control my thoughts and actions with subliminal messages. Now, of course, we have social media. There’s nothing subliminal about that and the effect is more immediate and more widespread.

The toilet paper stampede occurred because of a fictional shortage which then became a reality because people were buying in bulk and hoarding it, meaning there was none for anyone else. People seemed to be doing it because everyone else was doing it, regardless of the reassurances we were being given that there was, and never would be, a toilet paper shortage.

This, in turn, reminded me of the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. It has been one of my favourite stories since childhood. I could never understand why people would join in admiring the emperor’s clothes when they must have been able to see that he wasn’t wearing any. However, the very clever trickster weavers pulled the perfect April Fools’ Day joke by telling everyone that only the clever could see the clothes. Who would dare to admit their lack of cleverness? I was always pleased that it was the children who were brave and honest and spoke up to denounce the scoundrels.

So, with April Fools’ Day on 1 April and Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday on 2 April, it seems the perfect time to think about who might be in charge. This is my story. I hope you like it.

Charge!

As if a starting gun had been fired, the children scattered, looking in grass, under rocks, in branches of trees.

“What’re you doing?” asked the playground supervisor.

“There’s eggs, Miss. Easter eggs — millions of ‘em. Enough for everyone.”

“How many’ve you found?”

“None yet. Gotta keep lookin’.”

After a while, the searching slowed. “How many’ve you got?”

They showed empty pockets and empty hands.

The supervisor said, “Who said there were eggs?”

They shrugged.

When the punishment was handed down, the instigators explained, “It was just an experiment to see how many’d be sucked in. We meant no harm.”

You’ll be as pleased to know as I am, that Google has cancelled April Fools’ Day jokes for 2020 and that the coronavirus is deemed unsuitable for April Fools’ pranks. I thought that would go without saying.

I want you to know that this is not a joke: I may join in these challenges only intermittently for the next few months due to work commitments. I may also not get to visit your blogs as often as I would like but know that I will get there as often as I can. Stay well and happy and keep your distance from that awful virus.

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special days and events for classroom celebrations

Special Days and Events for Classroom Celebrations — April – #readilearn

We are only a quarter into the year but it seems so much longer with so much happening and situations changing constantly. While the situation will be far from business as usual for most of you, I will try to keep this post as close to usual as possible.

Whether children are at home or at school, their learning must continue. readilearn supports you with lessons and activities that focus on progressing children’s learning rather than simply keeping them busy. With resources easily affordable, and many of them free, readilearn is good value for teachers or parents working with children aged 5 – 7. If you feel yours is a special situation which places this low-cost resource out of your reach, please contact us.

April Fools’ Day

Be careful on 1 April as it is April Fools’ Day and tricksters and pranksters are about. Be on the lookout for fake news stories and all sorts of jokers trying to trip you up. Who will you trick?

International Children’s Book Day  

Continue reading: Special Days and Events for Classroom Celebrations — April – readilearn

Rabbits on the Roof flash fiction

Rabbits on the Roof — Who’s Counting? #flashfiction

Carrot Ranch - Rabbits on the roof

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a rabbit on the roof. Or many rabbits. Why are they there? Explain the unexpected, go into any genre. Go where the prompt leads!

As I mentioned in my comment on Charli’s post, all I could think about was the Fibonacci Rabbit Problem.

I wrote about the Fibonacci number sequence previously in a post called Counting on Daisies.

In the Fibonacci sequence, each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, and so on.

As the sequence progresses, the numbers get exponentially larger, not unlike the numbers succumbing to the dreaded virus that engulfing our world at the moment.

The number sequence occurs naturally in many situations; for example, in bee populations, in spirals of snail shells, in leaves on plants and petals on flowers.

But who was Fibonacci, why does he have a number sequence named after him, and what is the problem with rabbits?

Fibonacci was the Italian mathematician who introduced the Arabic-Hindu system of numbers and arithmetic (the numbers we use) to the Western World in the 12th Century.

Fibonacci wasn’t his real name. He was really Leonardo Bonacci. His famous book Liber Abaci was handwritten, long before the era of the printing press (let alone computers and indie publishing).  A couple of centuries later, some students reading his tome, misread what he had written (‘filius Bonacci’ meaning ‘son of Bonacci’) as Fibonacci and that’s how he’s still known today.

Fibonacci (Leonardo Bonacci) wrote about the number sequence that now bears his name in his book Liber Abaci. He explained the sequence using an example often referred to as The Rabbit Problem. The problem involves rabbits breeding profusely. While the situation described isn’t necessarily accurate, it is entertaining and helps us get the picture.

The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett

A beautiful picture book by Emily Gravett, also named The Rabbit Problem, is a fun way of introducing the concept to children. Set on Mr Fibonacci’s farm, the rabbits multiply each month for a year according to the number sequence. However, each month, new problems for the rabbits arise.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Fibonacci’s numbers, I highly recommend this video by mathemagician Arthur Benjamin.

But now for my story in response to Charli’s challenge. Perhaps it has an underlying message suited to these troubling times. Maybe you’ll see it too. If not, I hope it’s just a fun story that you enjoy.

What Rabbits?

“Wassup?” He knew something was when she stopped rocking.

“Nothin’.” She continued rocking.

“Musta bin somethin’.”

“Nah. Thought I saw a rabbit on that roof, is all.”

“I ain’t never seen no rabbit on a roof.”

“You ain’t never seen nothin’.”

 

“What?”

“Thought there was two rabbits on that there roof.”

“That’s crazy.”

 

The rabbits multiplied, but she never stopped rockin’ and she never said nothin’.

 

One day, he stopped.

“Shhh. I hear somethun.”

“What?”

“Sounds like …”

A multitude of rabbits exploded from the roof, landing all around, even in their laps.

“What?”

“Nothin.”

They kept on rockin’.

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keep the children engaged and learning with fun Easter activities

Keep children engaged and learning with fun Easter lessons and activities – #readilearn

Easter is coming in 2020 along with school holidays, school closures and lockdowns. While readilearn lessons and activities are designed with teachers of the first three years of school in mind, perhaps, in these challenging times, parents may also find them useful in supporting their children’s learning while they are out of school.

The collection now numbers over 400 resources and more than 70 of these are interactive lessons and stories. All resources can be accessed with a small annual subscription or purchased individually. Many of the resources are free.

While teachers would normally use the interactive lessons on the interactive whiteboard with the whole class or small group, parents access them on their home computers. Just as teachers would discuss the resources when using them with a class, so too, parents discuss them with their children as they work through them together. The most benefit for children comes from the discussion. They are not designed for children to use independently.

Lessons and activities with an Easter focus

Lessons and activities in the readilearn collection cover a range of topics and curriculum areas. However, the focus of this post is on those with an Easter theme and how they can be used to keep the children thinking and learning while having fun. (Note: All readilearn Easter-themed resources can be found here.)

Continue reading: Keep children engaged and learning with fun Easter lessons and activities – readilearn

Tap into knowledge with books and reading

Tap into knowledge with books and reading

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes tapping. You can play with the sound, make it an action, or create something unexpected. Tap a story and go where the prompt leads!

As it usually does, the prompt led me to children and education, especially the empowerment that comes from being able to read. Reading is the key that unlocks the wonders of the world.

While not a continuation of previous stories, it does include some of the characters. I hope you like it.

The Key

Tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap.

Peter removed his headphones.

Silence.

He returned to his game. ZING! KAPOW! BOOM!

Tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap.

There it was again. Incessant.

What was It? Where was it?

He placed his tablet and headphones on the couch and crept towards the sound — the bookcase!

Tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap.

With every step, the tapping intensified. The dusty glass obscured the interior, but the key was in the lock. Should he, or shouldn’t he?

He did!

Into his lap tumbled a rainbow cat, a girl in a hood, a herd of dinosaurs, an Egyptian Pharaoh and all the wonders of the world. Magic!

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It’s time for the 2020 Student Blogging Challenge — Join Now! – #readilearn

The 2020 Student Blogging Challenge starts on March 15. If you wish to participate, it’s still not too late to join in.

What is the Student Blogging Challenge?

The Student Blogging Challenge encourages students around the world to create a blog and experience the benefits of publishing online including:

  • developing digital writing skills
  • becoming aware of the possibilities and responsibilities of digital citizenship
  • writing for and developing an authentic audience
  • making connections with others around the world.

The project was founded in 2008 by Sue Wyatt and has been held twice a year since then in March and October. Each Challenge runs for eight weeks. A different blogging task is to be completed each week. You can download a copy of the schedule and a checklist of tasks here.

Who can be involved?

The challenge is open to students from K–12 around the world. However, organisers suggest that it is most suited to students from 8–16 years. Students can join in as part of a class group or individually. Participation is free.

There are three ways to participate:

Continue reading: It’s time for the 2020 Student Blogging Challenge — Join Now! – readilearn

First Cow in Space flash fiction

First Cow in Space #flashfiction

I’m sure you all know the nursery rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle about a cat playing a fiddle and a cow jumping over the moon.

I love using nursery rhymes with young children. They are a great way for them to learn the sounds and rhythms of our language, develop their memories and just have fun with nonsense. I’ve never considered it important for them (or me) to know the background of the rhymes. We can leave that to more serious students of literature.

The rhythm and rhyme of nursery rhymes encourage children to join in with the recitation and commit them to memory. Their memory for the rhymes can be used as a step into reading. I’ve written before about nursery rhymes, both on this blog and on the readilearn blog here and here. I have also some written some literacy lessons based on nursery rhymes that are available in the readilearn collection, including Let’s read and write with Little Miss Muffet, Humpty Dumpty — a story in five sittings and The Accident — Humpty Dumpty’s Fall.

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about Clarice. She can be any Clarice real, historical, or imagined. What story does she have for you to tell? Go where she may lead!

You may well wonder what that prompt has to do with nursery rhymes. But Charli always says to go where the prompt leads. It usually leads me to children and education in some way. This time, and with a huge apology to all the Clarices out there, it led me to a cow in a nursery rhyme. Why should she be called Clarice? I don’t know, but I thought the first cow in space would be quite an imaginary historical figure. I hope you like my story. I’m certain, if given a chance, children would come up with their own wonderful innovations too.

First Cow in Space

“We are here today with the first cow in space, whose identity, until now, has been kept secret. Will you please welcome [drum roll] Clarice Cloverdale.”

[Applause]

“Clarice, please tell us about your adventure and why your identity was undisclosed for so long.”

“It was simply a non-disclosure agreement. That contract has now terminated so I’m free to tell.”

“Go on.”

“We were all tired of playing second-fiddle to Cat. Dish and Spoon ran away so Dog had no alternative but to make me the star. Needless to say, I was over the moon. The rest is history.”

[Applause]

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