Here it is December already, the final month in a year unlike any other. We can only hope that things improve as we leave this one behind and step into the new year. But for now, I have some December days and events you may wish to celebrate with your children whether at home or at school.
Eat a Red Apple Day on 1 December is the perfect time to remind ourselves to eat healthy food, particularly as the party season is just beginning. It is also the perfect time to thank teachers for all the hard work they have done during the year.
International Day of People with Disabilityon 3 December aims to develop an understanding of disability, promote respectful ways of relating to those with a disability, and create an awareness of the benefits of an inclusive society that takes the needs of people with a disability into consideration. “Disability Day is not concerned exclusively with either mental or physical disabilities, but rather encompasses all known disabilities, from Autism to Down Syndrome to Multiple Sclerosis.”
When shopping recently, I was reminded of how difficult it can be for some to carry out everyday tasks that most of us take for granted, and how far we have yet to go to be fully inclusive.
And the results for the fourth and last weekly Carrot Ranch 2020 Rodeo Contest are in! Pop over to Goldie’s place to read the clever winning entry. Was it yours? It wasn’t mine.
We are waiting for just one set of results now – the TUFF contest that took place over four weeks.
If you remember, in October, we tightened our grips on the reins and we Rodeoed. Four weeks, four hosts, four contests, four winners, four prizes! Thanks to Charli and the Carrot Ranch, I was able to not only participate in those writing challenges, but also host one.
When I volunteered, I was not sure what to expect, but since I like trying new things, I just went for it. When the time arrived, I came up with a prompt (quote + masterpiece painting), crossed my finger, and hoped for the best.
If you would like to read more about the contest or maybe even write a story of your own (outside of the contest), take a look here -> (Writing Contest) Rodeo #4: “Wanted Alive”. (You should also check it out if you had missed my art.)
All I could think of was: “What if no one enters?” I wondered…
Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Kathy Hoopmann and her delightfully humorous and sensitive books that help to explain how it feels to be on the autism spectrum or to have ADHD — All Cats are on the Autism Spectrum and All Dogs have ADHD.
These books are perfect for use in both the home and classroom settings. Children and adults on the spectrum or diagnosed with ADHD will find themselves in the books, and others will recognise and develop understanding and empathy for their fellows who may travel the world on a slightly different path.
All Cats are on the Autism Spectrum and All Dogs have ADHD are updated versions of Kathy’s previously published and successful books All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome and All Dogs Have ADHD. Kathy explains her reasons for updating them.
“I first published All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome in 2006 and All Dogs Have ADHD in 2009. Fast forward 11 and 14 years and although both books were still selling well, the layouts were dated and some of the text needed tweaking to represent current views and terminology. The biggest criticism I had was that they were written with male pronouns
And, as many girls have ASD and ADHD, they also wanted to see themselves on the page. With these things in mind, I took the opportunity to freshen up the entire books and revitalized them with all new images as well. “
They are definitely beautiful books and delightful to look at, filled from cover to cover with cute cat and dog images. However, the books are more than just that. Kathy shines a positive light on the sometimes-quirky behaviours that are endearing in pets and helps us recognise the beauty and joy we can discover in diversity. She encourages us to accept ourselves and others just as we are.
A recommendation by Haley Moss
The updated version of All Cats are on the Autism Spectrum has a beautiful foreword written by Haley Moss, Esq., an autistic attorney, author, artist and advocate. Haley writes:
“Me-wow! I was 13 years old when my mom brought All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome home from an autism conference. You’d expect teenagers to think they’re too old for picture books when they so desperately want to be seen as adults, but nope
December is packed with excitement for children in Australia. It marks the end of the school year and the beginning of the long summer, often called ‘Christmas’, holidays and, of course, Christmas itself.
Once final assessments for the year are done, it can be difficult keeping children focused on learning when their thoughts are turning to imminent adventures.
However, it needn’t be so, and here at readilearn we have a variety of lessons that keep the children learning while having some Christmas fun.
For me, the real meaning of Christmas is being kind and generous in spirit. But of course, those values are not confined to Christmas and hopefully children have been developing their friendship skills and ability to get along throughout the year. Maybe you’ve used some of the readilearn friendship skills lessons to support their development.
Who celebrates Christmas?
Before you dive into Christmas activities, a survey will help you find out which children in the class do and do not celebrate Christmas. While you will already have an idea of which children do, it can be an interesting way to begin the discussion of different cultural traditions celebrated by children in your class.
The main ingredient in any of these discussions should always be respect, and it is important to find ways of making classroom activities inclusive. A generosity of spirit develops when we see that what we share is more important than the ways in which we differ. Learning about each other is an important way of developing understanding.
Pop over to Marsha’s blog to find out the winner of the third Carrot Ranch 2020 Flash Fiction Rodeo contest. You won’t find a story by me in this one as I didn’t enter. Why not? you ask.
‘Cause I was a judge.
I think you’ll agree all the writers did well to meet Marsha’s tough challenge. Congratulations to everyone who entered – especially to the winner!
Today, I am proud to announce the winners of the Carrot Ranch’s 2020 Writing Rodeo Event #3 which I had the honor of organizing. Ten brave cowpokes saddled up, rustled up six words from the song “Git Along Little Dogies,” and lassoed them little dogies into a unique 99-word story in the genre of their choice.
The judges struggled to pick one over another story they were so doggoned good and so different. Surprise endings, funny, murderous, you would be entertained. Each and every one of the contestants should feel proud. They flexed their writing muscles into fingers of steel.
Everyone who participated is welcomed to display this badge on their website. You earned it!
Now, for our Writing Rodeo 2020 honorable mentions:
“McCall” written by Bill Engleson
“Just a Numbers Game” written byLiz Husebye Hartmann
“Walking the Canal Path” written bySusan Spitulnik
Nursery rhymes are fun, especially nonsense nursery rhymes like Hey Diddle, Diddle.
Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
But nursery rhymes are not just fun. They are often a child’s first introduction to our literary heritage and have many benefits for young children.
They help children learn the sounds and rhythms of the language.
They are short and easy to remember so help to develop memory.
They introduce children to rhyme and alliteration and help to develop phonemic awareness which is important to the development of skills in reading and writing.
They encourage a joy in language and inspire a playfulness that contributes to further language learning.
Australian author Mem Fox is often quoted as saying that
“Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually among the best readers by the time they’re eight.”
We know that success with literacy learning often correlates with success later in life. Most early childhood teachers agree that children who have been spoken to, sung to (including nursery rhymes) and read to before school find literacy learning much easier in our classrooms. However, the value of nursery rhymes doesn’t end when children begin school. They can be the focus of learning throughout school.
World Nursery Rhyme Week
If you are not already aware of it, you may wish to check out World Nursery Rhyme Week that begins next week on 16 November and continues until 20 November. The purpose of World Nursery Rhyme Week is to promote the importance of nursery rhymes in early education. Follow the link to find lots of free resources to join in the worldwide celebration of nursery rhymes.
Learning with Hey Diddle, Diddle
Let’s begin with ten lesson ideas based upon the nonsense nursery rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle. I’m sure you are familiar with the rhyme.
And the results for the second Carrot Ranch 2020 Flash Fiction Rodeo – The Double Ennead Poetry Challenge lead by poet Colleen Chesebro – are in!
Did you enter? I did, but I didn’t win. Did you? Pop over to Colleen’s to find out.
Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to a new fun story time podcast I have just discovered. I’m sure you will love these fun, clever podcasts as much as I do. I gave this podcast a 5-star rating and recommend it for both classroom and home use.
Dorktales Storytime Podcast is great for the whole family to listen to together on family story night, on car trips or anytime. It is perfect in the classroom to promote discussion of stories, particularly when studying fairy tales and fractured fairy tales, stimulate imagination for writing story innovations and pure enjoyment.
Note: the information below was provided by Becky Flansburg as part of the Dorktales promotion, of which I’m delighted to be a part.
Anything that promotes a love of story, as this podcast does, gets my tick of approval. I have to tell you that I have listened to and thoroughly enjoyed all the episodes that are currently available and can’t wait for more.
Time is something there never seems to be enough of, and it’s like many other things — if you don’t use it, you lose it.
One common saying is that time is wasted on the young. I don’t think it’s wasted, but I think to young people it seems infinite. It did to me anyway. I thought there was time enough for everything I wanted to achieve. I thought that, as this song from my youth said, time was on my side.
As I got older, I realised that time wasn’t infinite and that in fact, it was not only precious, it was also slipping away.
While we may not entirely be able to make up for lost time, we can always make the most of our present time.
One of my favourite quotes about time, sometimes but not correctly attributed to Einstein, is that its only purpose is to stop everything happening at once. I think this is true of events in both the past and the future. If we are unable to associate them with a date or a context, they may as well have happened or happen at the same time.
If the only time we have is now, we must enjoy it and make the best use of it we can until our time is up and there are no more ‘present’ moments.
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.
Every day we open that gift with anticipation and use its joys to create our tomorrows.
I guess I don’t need to state the obvious, that I’ve reached that stage of life where there’s more time in the past than the future. However, for as long as I have the present, I’ll be doing my best to make the most of it.
Here’s my response to Charli’s challenge. I hope you enjoy it.
Out of Time
“Not yet! I’m not finished.”
Mallory stared at the page, blank except for some scribbles and a few false starts. Others smiled as they handed in their papers, earning accolades and rewards for tasks successfully completed.
“Please, just a little more time?”
“You’ve already had more than most.”
“I can do it. Promise.”
The timekeeper tapped the watch. “Five more. That’s all.”
Mallory worked frantically until the timekeeper declared, “You’re out of time.”
Mallory smiled, “It’s never too late to begin.”
The timekeeper agreed. “But you could have achieved much more had you not wasted time earlier.”
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.
A couple of weeks ago, I announced the publication of a new anthology of Bedtime Ballads and Tall Tales from the Australian Bush, Tell ‘Em They’re Dreaming, in which I am delighted to have a ballad of my own included.
The anthology was launched online on Facebook last Sunday 1 November with many of the authors reading their stories in the Share Your Story Facebook Group, which you are welcome to join. You may scroll through the posts and listen to many of the stories there.
My story Once Upon a Billabong tells of a big bully bullfrog who enjoys being mean and doesn’t allow anyone else to live in his billabong. But things don’t always work out the way we plan, and certainly not for the bully bullfrog who is soon looking for a home himself. To find out what happens, listen to me read the story in this video, or perhaps you’d like to read along with me. I hope you enjoy it.
(In case you’re wondering, I bought a frog onesie especially for the launch and still decided to wear it when we had to go online. It doesn’t work as well in the video as I’d hoped. I’m not really trying to hide. 😊)