As the countdown to the end of the school year and the Christmas holidays gets underway, here at readilearn, we ensure that learning continues when the Christmas fun begins.
Who celebrates Christmas?
Do you know which children in your class celebrate Christmas with their families? Conduct a survey to find out. While you may already know, the survey can be an interesting way to begin discussions of different cultural traditions celebrated by children in your class.
These discussions should always be respectful and inclusive. It is essential for children, and all of us, to see that what we have in common is more important than any differences.
How many school days until Christmas?
This calendar helps to count down the last fifteen days of term and provides an opportunity for children to present information about their family’s traditions. The Countdown Calendar can be used to countdown to Christmas or, for inclusivity, to the holidays.
Inclusive friendship trees
Build self-esteem and confidence as well as friendship skills with Friendship trees. They are easy to make and are a great way to ensure the children keep thinking friendly thoughts about each other.
Children make their own friendship tree and, every day, they write anonymous positive messages of friendship and affirmation to place in each other’s trees. At the end of the term, children take their trees home to read and enjoy over the holidays.
Another fun way to encourage the children to work together on a joint project of which they can be proud is to create a 3D classroom tree display. While children are proud of their individual contribution, they recognise the importance of everyone working together. The tree becomes a visible reminder of the importance of team work. It can be the focus of a beautiful classroom display.
Christmas Activity Book
The Christmas Activity Book has 30-pages and 22 different activities, and is perfect for use at home or in the classroom.
This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills was talking about family histories not always telling the truth. There are parts of my family’s history that may not be totally accurate too. There are different versions of some tales, and not just of events from different perspectives.
Last year when I wrote a brief book about her female ancestors for my granddaughter on her tenth birthday, I included a version of a story that my father related. When his only remaining sister read the account, she informed me that it was wrong. Somehow, she said, all the males of the family told my father’s version, but my aunt was sure she had the correct version.
My father said that my great grandmother Hannah was born in England and met her future husband George in England before emigrating to Australia. He said that George came to Australia as a paying passenger and that Hannah masqueraded as a cabin boy and worked her passage out. He said that George called her Jim so as to not give her secret away. They arrived in Brisbane in1891 and married on 11th June that year. Hannah gave birth to six children, two of whom died in infancy. Fortunately for me, one of the survivors was my grandmother.
According to my aunt, it was Hannah who paid her way out and George who worked as a cabin boy. I think. Perhaps I’d better check while I can and before I spread too many other lies.
As well as untruths, many families have skeletons that they like to keep locked in the cupboard. My family has a few of those too. When my mother’s brother was researching the family history, he discovered that one of our ancestors had been transported to Australia for a minor misdemeanour, as many were, such as stealing a loaf of bread. I can’t be sure. Both my mother and uncle were horrified and didn’t want to tell anyone, but somehow the word got out. It’s not so bad really. We found out that there’s a similar ancestor on my father’s side. Nowadays, it’s more acceptable to have a convict way back in the family tree than it was for previous generations. Most are no longer fazed by it.
Today it is my pleasure to review a beautiful new picture book Little People Big Emotions written by Kylie Mort, illustrated by Tiina Morton and published by Serenity Press. This post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.
About the author Kylie Mort
Kylie Mort is many things, but she is a wordsmith at heart. An International Amazon #1 Best-Selling Author with multiple award-winning publications, she is also an App Developer with a NEW FREE APP, available on Google Play and The Apple App Store, that supports essay writing in targeted Question and Answer templates. “How to Write with Kylie Mort” guides students one sentence at a time through a step-by-step process that concludes with a complete and easily downloaded full essay! Due to her educational background as a qualified and registered secondary school teacher, Kylie’s main day-to-day activity is mentoring and coaching as an online tutor.
She likes to connect to the world from her farm in North-East Victoria, Australia.
About Little People Big Emotions
Sometimes my mind is a curious butterfly that flits from one idea to the next…a playful puppy that can’t concentrate…a busy blender that mixes things up…a mean monster that makes me feel bad. That’s OK because my parents and teachers know how to help me deal with all the emotions that feel so BIG. I can learn what to do when my mind is a mean monster…a busy blender…a playful puppy…and a curious butterfly…and I smile, knowing I am safe, and loved, and special. Focused on building resilience, self-worth and positive mental health in our young people, this is a beautifully inspiring parenting resource written by an internationally best-selling author qualified in Education, NLP, Performance Coaching and Psychology.
What I like about Little People Big Emotions
Little People Big Emotions is immediately captivating. The cover with its bold, bright colours and fun bouncy lettering invites us to enter. The joyous mood continues as we turn the pages, past the colourful title page to the first spread, where we encounter butterflies flitting across the landscape.
With 2022 rapidly drawing to a close, it’s now time to start thinking about ideas for 2023. Let’s explore some now!
Students love to participate in classroom decoration. Building on this, why not create a fish-themed classroom with aligned class activities. It will grow an appreciation for the majestic waterways, rich reefs and sea life that surrounds us.
You could also, on day one, set expectations by asking students: what sort of teacher would you like me to be this year? And then add the follow-up question: well, what type of student will you try to be?
Another great way to relate to students while also relaying important educational content is to focus lessons or classroom systems around the concept of sports and pastimes.
What are the chances? Students rate the chances of an outcome occurring using the terms, Will happen, Might happen, Certain. E.g., Next year, no one in our class will play a sport with a ball.
Systems of Communication – using umpire signals for a sport, what is the umpire communicating? E.g., Start of a game, high tackle, etc.
Sporty names: Using sporting team names to introduce or revisit the sounds and names of letters.
Inspired to incorporate some or all of the activities and concepts above? May I suggest the itc 2023 Early Years teachers’ diary, the itc innovative teachers’ companion. This diary has the usual planning and recording materials; however, it also contains an array of specialist K-2 lesson ideas and professional readings – including a full breakdown of the ideas touched on above!
There are also professional readings on:
Health and wellbeing tips
Phonics and word knowledge
And much more!
The activities have been assembled by a large team of writers, including Norah Colvin from readilearn, and the activities are referenced and aligned to the Australian curriculum and the Early Years Framework.
Next week, from 14th – 18th November, is World Nursery Rhyme Week. Why not celebrate by revisiting some of the children’s (and your) favourite nursey rhymes. Children in our F – 2 classrooms can explore language features and use them as a springboard for writing, recitation, and role play. Children in older classrooms may like to investigate their (often dark) origins and history.
The aim of World Nursery Rhyme Week is to promote the importance of nursery rhymes in early education. The five official nursery rhymes for this year’s celebration are:
The Big Ship Sails
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Once I Caught a Fish Alive
Five Little Speckled Frogs
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
However, you are welcome to use any nursery rhymes you like, and here at readilearn we have some resources to assist your teaching.
readilearn nursery rhyme resources
Teach literacy skills and develop creative thinking and imagination with Humpty Dumpty.
The Humpty Dumpty suite of resources includes:
The Accident — Humpty Dumpty’s Fall is an original story that innovates on the nursery rhyme by providing a scenario that might lead to Humpty’s falling from the wall. It is a digital estory which can be displayed and read on the interactive whiteboard. It can be read as a story on its own or as part of the writing unit Humpty Dumpty — a story in five sittings. (Note: if you wish to implement the writing unit, do so before reading the story.)
Humpty Dumpty — a story in five sittings is a series of five lessons in writing based upon the nursery rhyme. Each lesson provides opportunities for children to think creatively and imaginatively and to write using a basic narrative structure. It presupposes children already have an idea of sentence structure and some experience writing stories of their own.
Of course, before attempting to read or write an alternative, it is important that children are familiar with the nursery rhyme. We have that covered too, with a printable copy of the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty to download.
I didn’t have time to write a story in time to be included in the collection, but I wanted to write one anyway. I’ve stayed with Lucy and Amy and their little red convertible as they play with their toys. I hope you enjoy it.
The Squeaky Wheel
“Shh! What’s that noise,” said Lucy.
Amy stopped the car. Everyone was quiet.
“I don’t hear anything,” said Amy.
The others agreed. Nothing.
They continued on their way.
“There it is again,” said Lucy.
Amy didn’t stop the car, but they all listened.
“I hear it,” said Monkey. “Squeak. Squeak. Squeak.”
“Eek!” screamed Ellie. “There’s a mouse in the car!”
“No, silly,” said Bunny. “It’s a squeaky wheel.”
“Just needs some grease,” said Amy. “Everybody out!”
They all piled out. Amy hoisted the little red convertible for Lucy to grease the wheel, then they were on their way again.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.
Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Wheels Keep on Turning, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.
My first thoughts went to the Rawhide theme song with its ‘Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’’ refrain.
Of course, they’re not wheels that are rollin’, so that song wouldn’t do. But how wonderful to see these actors, who looked so old when I was a child, look not much more than children to me now.
My next thought was of Proud Mary and her big wheel that kept turning.
But that wouldn’t do either.
I wanted to return to my girls Amy and Lucy and their little red convertible from previous stories but couldn’t decide how. You could say the wheels were turning but I wasn’t getting anywhere. Fortunately, I thought of a third song about wheels.
That was more my style and this is my story. I hope you enjoy it.
The Wheels of the Limo
“The wheels of the bus go —. No, wait. The wheels of the limo go round and round, round and round —”
“Why’d ya stop?”
“I didn’t stop. We’re stuck.”
“But the wheels are turning.”
“Must be something underneath. Okay. Everybody out.”
Teddy, Ollie, Ellie, Monkey and Bunny piled out. They watched as Amy hoisted the little red convertible for Lucy to check underneath.
“There’s a rock,” said Lucy. She reached under, withdrew the culprit, and hurled it into the shrubs.
“All aboard!” she called.
The passengers settled back in, and everyone sang, “The wheels of the limo …”
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.
Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Bones, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.
I’m delighted to tell you that It’s a Kind of Magic, Stories and Spells by Second-Rate Sorcerers is now available for purchase. The anthology is a collection of over 35 stories and poems written by authors young and old, emerging and established.
The book launch last Saturday was a lot of fun with story and poetry readings from the book. Authors, poets, children and their parents came in costume to set the mood for the festivities.
After listening to the readings, children did craft activities before trick-or-treating around the shopping centre where they received treats from all the stores whose participation had been organised by the launch host, The Mad Hatters Bookshop. What amazing collaboration to make the day so special for all involved.
It was a great morning and I thank The Mad Hatters Bookshop, Michelle Worthington (publisher and editor of the book and international award-winning author) and Kayt Duncan (author and story teller extraordinaire) for their hard work in making the event such a success. What an amazing team.
If you missed the launch, many of the stories may be viewed on the Storytime with Anthology Angels YouTube channel. If you wish to find out additional information about the writers, many of them have their own websites and are active on social media.
I have written some teacher notes for the book, which I hope you will find useful. You can read them here or download a free PDF copy here.
It is easy to find opportunities for using the book when teaching the English Curriculum as reading aloud by the teacher and opportunities for children to read independently are an essential part of each school day. The stories and poems are short and can be incorporated in the program or turned to when a diversion is needed to settle the class or when there a few minutes wait-time between lessons and activities.
I’ve listed the stories and poems under the following headings so that you can easily find a story or poem that features particular characters, settings, events, themes or language features you are teaching.
Poems and Rhyming Stories
Annie the Wonder Witch by Deborah Huff-Horwood, page 68
Today it is my pleasure to introduce Jacqui Murray to the blog. Jacqui is a prolific writer and blogger and shares my passion for education. While my focus is the early years, Jacqui’s is tech. She’s my tech education guru.
Jacqui’s latest and eagerly awaited book, Natural Selection, is the third in the Dawn of Humanity trilogy. Having read others of Jacqui’s books in her prehistoric fiction saga, I was delighted to support the launch of this one, especially when she agreed to write a post with a connection to education, and even more so when it was as fascinating as this one. I hope you enjoy!
Over to Jacqui.
Why Early Man Didn’t Use Proper Nouns
When you read Natural Selection, you’ll notice quickly none of our earliest ancestors used proper nouns. Even their names come from sounds associated with them, not a relative or symbolic of something about the individual (like ‘Hope’). That’s because earliest man didn’t develop the capacity for symbolism until much later. That meant proper nouns–names–like “Lake Victoria” or “Mount Ngorongoro” (locations in East Africa where these early tribes lived) were meaningless labels. Instead, landmarks were identified by long hyphenated descriptions of where they are, what they look like, and how to find them. For example, the name of a tree that’s just fruited might be “leafy-tree-by boulder-bed-near-waterhole-by-Sun’s-sleeping-nest”.
More later on how early man remembered these long labels!
Consider this reasoning: A town near me is Mission Viejo. The name means nothing to those who haven’t visited. If I went in search of it, it wouldn’t be near a green mission. I’d have to find it on a map program. Early man didn’t have this so the label applied by those in the area would instead be directions on how to find it—“at-the-end-of-wide-animal-path”. Same with lakes, waterholes, fruit trees, hills, herds, or anything else in the area. You and I would have trouble remembering the long names, but primitive tribes had prodigious memories and easily remembered lots of details. By providing such a thorough description, any tribe member could find the location even if they had never been there by simply following the designations provided.
This shocked early explorers, both that people considered dumb primitives had such good memories and that they could travel long distances without maps or compasses. The famous anthropologist Margaret Meade had the same epiphany when she lived with primitive tribes for extended periods of time to study them. Symbolic proper nouns were meaningless. In fact, they were confusing.
To put this in perspective: If you are hiking in the mountains or through the wilderness you have never visited before and want to guide someone to where you are, the proper noun name you made up (“Porter’s Creek”) does no good. Telling them to follow the waterway that cuts between the two hills and aims to the sun is much more helpful.
About Jacqui Murray
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.
About Natural Selection
In this conclusion to Lucy’s journey, she and her tribe leave their good home to rescue former-tribe members captured by the enemy. Lucy’s tribe includes a mix of species–a Canis, a Homotherium, and different iterations of early man. In this book, more join and some die, but that is the nature of prehistoric life, where survival depends on a combination of our developing intellect and our inexhaustible will to live. Each species brings unique skills to this task. Based on true events.
Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.
A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!
Jacqui has generously shared the first chapter of Natural Selection to tantalize your tastebuds for prehistoric fiction. Thank you, Jacqui.
The Canis’ packmates were all dead, each crumpled in a smeared puddle of blood, Upright killing sticks embedded where they should never be. His body shook, but he remembered his training. The killers’ scent filled the air. If they saw him—heard him—they would come for him, too, and he must survive. He was the last of his pack.
He padded quietly through the bodies, paused at his mate, broken, eyes open, tongue out, pup under her chest, his head crushed. A moan slipped from his muzzle and spread around him. He swallowed what remained in his mouth. Without a pack, silence was his only protection. He knew to be quiet, but today, now, failed.
To his horror, a departing Upright looked back, face covered in Canis blood, meaty shreds dripping from his mouth, the body of a dead pup slung over his shoulder. The Canis sank into the brittle grass and froze. The Upright scanned the massacre, saw the Canis’ lifeless body, thought him dead like the rest of the decimated pack. Satisfied, he turned away and rushed after his departing tribe. The Canis waited until the Upright was out of sight before cautiously rising and backing away from the onslaught, eyes on the vanished predators in case they changed their minds.
He had planned to descend into the gully behind him. Sun’s shadows were already covering it in darkness which would hide him for the night, but he had gauged his position wrong. Suddenly, earth disappeared beneath his huge paws. He tried to scrabble to solid ground, but his weight and size worked against him and he tumbled down the steep slope. The loose gravel made gripping impossible, but he dug his claws in anyway, whining once when his shoulder slammed into a rock, and again when his head bounced off a tree stump. Pain tore through his ear as flesh ripped, dangling in shreds as it slapped the ground. He kept his legs as close as possible to his body and head tucked, thankful this hill ended in a flat field, not a river.
Or a cliff.
When it finally leveled out, he scrambled to his paws, managed to ignore the white-hot spikes shrieking through his head as he spread his legs wide. Blood wafted across his muzzle. He didn’t realize it was his until the tart globs dripped down his face and plopped to the ground beneath his quaking chest. The injured animal odor, raw flesh and fresh blood, drew predators. In a pack, his mate would purge it by licking the wound. She would pronounce him Ragged-ear, the survivor.
Ragged-ear is a strong name. A good one.
He panted, tail sweeping side to side, and his indomitable spirit re-emerged.
Except, maybe, the female called White-streak. She often traveled alone, even when told not to. If she was away during the raid, she may have escaped. He would find her. Together, they would start over.
Ragged-ear shook, dislodging the grit and twigs from his now-grungy fur. That done, he sniffed out White-streak’s odor, discovered she had also descended here. His injuries forced him to limp and blood dripping from his tattered ear obstructed his sight. He stumbled trying to leap over a crack and fell into the fissure. Fire shot through his shoulder, exploded up his neck and down his chest. Normally, that jump was easy. He clambered up its crumbling far wall, breaking several of his yellowed claws.
All of that he ignored because it didn’t matter to his goal.
Daylight came and went as he followed White-streak, out of a forest onto dry savannah that was nothing like his homeland.
Why did she go here?
He embraced the tenderness that pulsed throughout his usually-limber body. It kept him angry and that made him vicious. He picked his way across streams stepping carefully on smooth stones, their damp surfaces slippery from the recent heavy rain, ignoring whoever hammered with a sharp rock inside his head. His thinking was fuzzy, but he didn’t slow. Survival was more important than comfort, or rest.
Ragged-ear stopped abruptly, nose up, sniffing. What had alerted him? Chest pounding, breathing shallow, he studied the forest that blocked his path, seeking anything that shouldn’t be there.
But the throbbing in his head made him miss Megantereon.
Ragged-ear padded forward, slowly, toward the first tree, leaving only the lightest of trails, the voice of Mother in his head.
Yes, your fur color matches the dry stalks, but the grass sways when you move. That gives away your location so always pay attention.
His hackles stiffened and he snarled, out of instinct, not because he saw Megantereon. Its shadowy hiding place was too dark for Ragged-ear’s still-fuzzy thinking. The She-cat should have waited for Ragged-ear to come closer, but she was hungry, or eager, or some other reason, and sprang. Her distance gave the Canis time to back pedal, protecting his soft underbelly from her attack. Ragged-ear was expert at escaping, but his stomach spasmed and he lurched to a stop with a yowl of pain. Megantereon’s next leap would land her on Ragged-ear, but to the Canis’ surprise, the She-cat staggered to a stop, and then howled.
While she had been stalking Ragged-ear, a giant Snake had been stalking her. When she prepared her death leap, Snake dropped to her back and began to wrap itself around her chest. With massive coils the size of Megantereon’s leg, trying to squirm away did no good.
Ragged-ear tried to run, but his legs buckled. Megantereon didn’t care because she now fought a rival that always won. The She-cat’s wails grew softer and then silent. Ragged-ear tasted her death as he dragged himself into a hole at the base of an old tree, as far as possible from scavengers who would be drawn to the feast.
He awoke with Sun’s light, tried to stand, but his legs again folded. Ragged-ear remained in the hole, eyes closed, curled around himself to protect his vulnerable stomach, his tail tickling his nose, comforting.
He survived the Upright’s assault because they deemed him dead. He would not allow them to be right.
Sun came and went. Ragged-ear consumed anything he could find, even eggs, offal, and long-dead carcasses his pack normally avoided. His legs improved until he could chase rats, fat round ground birds, and moles, a welcome addition to his diet. Sometimes, he vomited what he ate and swallowed it again. The day came he once again set out after what remained of his pack, his pace more sluggish than prior to the attack, but quick enough for safety.
Ragged-ear picked up the female’s scent again and tracked her to another den. He slept there for the night and repeated his hunt the next day and the next. When he couldn’t find her trace, instinct drove him and memories of the dying howls of his pack, from the adults who trusted their Alpha Ragged-ear to protect them to the whelps who didn’t understand the presence of evil in their bright world.
Everywhere he traveled, when he crossed paths with an Upright, it was their final battle.
Find out more about Jacqui or connect with her on Social Media