Author Archives: Norah

About Norah

Early childhood educator and resource developer.

Results of Carrot Ranch TUFF contest

TUFF Winner Announced

The results of the four-week Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction TUFF writing contest are in. Pop over to the Carrot Ranch to read the winning entry by Liz Husebye Hartmann – an excellent choice.
Thanks, Charli and all the leaders, judges and contestants for another great rodeo.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Everything about the TUFF Rodeo contest was difficult.

TUFF is an acronym for The Ultimate Flash Fiction. The contest challenges writers to revise their original 99-word draft through a series of word reductions. It gives writers the chance to think differently about their original draft.

To make the contest harder, each week of the four-part contest gave writers a new craft twist. When TUFF writers had to reduce their draft to 59 words, they also had to craft two different 59-word points of view. Next, writers had to craft three different 9-word taglines for their story. Finally, writers had to revise their original 99-words and add an eerily out of place prop.

Judges considered each entry’s process as much as the final result. They expected an original final 99-word story that incorporated the western and romance themes with an out of the place prop. They wanted to see raw ideas…

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Newspaper and Sawdust

Newspaper and Sawdust

In the most recent flash fiction prompt posted on the Carrot Ranch on World Toilet Day, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that glorifies a toilet. Capture the marvel and status and love for a contraption we’d rather not mention. Go where the prompt leads!

Writers were given an extension, allowing 2 weeks for responses, which should have been enough to overcome inspiration constipation. Sadly, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about toilets and toilet situations, but writing little about them. Perhaps something will flow now that the block is cleared. Maybe constipation will turn to diarrhoea.

I am surprised to have few memories of toilets from my early childhood.

I lived on a farm until I was six and cannot recall what type of toilet we had or where it was located. I assume it was what we in Australia refer to affectionately as a ‘dunny’ or ‘thunderbox’ — an outhouse or outside toilet with a wooden seat over a metal can.

I also don’t recall the toilets at the first semi-rural school I attended. Considering I must have made a few trips at least each day, at home and at school, one tiny memory shouldn’t be too much to ask.

When we moved from the farm to a young growing beachside suburb, we definitely had an outhouse for the first few years, probably until sometime in the early sixties. It was located half-way down the back yard, about five metres from our high-set house. So, at night, or during storms or cyclones, we had to negotiate the outside uncovered steps (about 15), race across the backyard and into the shelter of the outhouse, our path lit by a torch or lantern, if we were lucky.

I never envied the job of the ‘night soil men’ (or ‘dunny men’ as we kids called them) who would come in once a week to collect the can of waste and carry it out to empty into the truck. What a job. I wonder if any complained about losing their jobs to flushing toilets.

I know that sewerage was connected to our home before I was twelve as I have a very strong memory of receiving an unjustified (in my opinion) belting behind it at that age. That toilet was also outside but at least it was at the foot of the stairs and not halfway down the backyard. Flushing water and soft toilet tissue replaced newspaper and sawdust.

There was no upstairs toilet added to the house until years after I left home. It was only added when negotiating the stairs became difficult for my mum. But even it was still outside, though thankfully, just outside the back door at the top of the stairs.

My only memories of school toilets are of flushing toilets, whether septic or sewered, I don’t know, and of not being allowed to go when I needed to.

Toilets have taken on a whole new significance as I’ve aged, and their cleanliness is of utmost importance. I worked as a consultant for an educational publisher for a few years. The role involved visiting school in my local and surrounding areas. I used to rate the towns by the accessibility and cleanliness of their toilets.

When I read the statistics published by World Toilet Day, my requirements are something many can only dream about. According to the website:

  • 4.2 billion of the world’s population do not have access to adequate sanitation — that’s more than half of the world’s 7.8 billion people
  • 3 billion people don’t have facilities like water and soap for basic handwashing at home
  • about 800 children under five die every day from diseases caused by poor sanitation or lack of clean drinking water

These and other horrifying statistics are available on the website. The humble flushing toilet that so many of us take for granted, is not so humble for many, but rather something for them to glorify.

For a few years now, I’ve been purchasing my toilet paper, tissues and paper towels from Who Gives a Crap. I chose Who Gives a Crap because they donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets for those who need them. So far, they have donated $8.3 million. I am pleased to be able to contribute in a small way, without any extra effort, to such a worthwhile project. Who Gives a Crap products are available in Australia, USA, UK, Sweden and Europe. Check out their website for more information.

I guess it’s time to share my flash fiction in response to Charli’s prompt.

The End (with apologies to Alan Alexander Milne)

When I was one and had just begun

Nappies were where my business was done.

When I was two, not nearly so new

A training potty was home for my poo.

When I was three, I was learning to pee

In a toilet that flushed away to the sea.

When I was four or not much more

I learned to be private behind a closed door.

When I was five, school days had arrived

And toilets were places to play and hide.

When I get old, or so I am told,

A clean handy toilet is precious as gold.

Thank you blog post

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

special days and events for classroom celebrations - December

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

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 Disability on 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.

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

Carrot Ranch 2020 Flash Fiction Rodeo contest #4

Winner Announced! (Writing Contest) Rodeo #4: Wanted Alive.

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.

One day at a time...

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…

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Understanding Autism Spectrum and ADHD with Kathy Hoopmann

Cats and Dogs — Understanding Autism Spectrum and ADHD with Kathy Hoopmann – #readilearn

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

Continue reading: Cats and Dogs — Understanding Autism Spectrum and ADHD with Kathy Hoopmann – readilearn

Christmas lessons and activities for P-2

Christmas Lessons and Activities for P–2 – #readilearn

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.

Count down the school days 

Continue reading: Christmas Lessons and Activities for P–2 – readilearn

AND The 2020 Carrot Ranch Writing Rodeo’s Third Event Winner Is:

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!

Marsha Ingrao - Always Write

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

“Remarkable Ramblin’” written byJules…

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teaching with nursery rhymes

The Cow Jumped Over the Moon — Really? – #readilearn

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.

Continue reading: The Cow Jumped Over the Moon — Really? – readilearn

double ennead winners

The Results ARe IN For the Winner of the Carrot Ranch Double Ennead Poetry Challenge

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.

Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry

For this year’s rodeo, I created a special poetry form called the Double Ennead. The word Ennead means nine, and a double nine is ninety-nine! Carrot Ranch is famous for 99-word flash fiction. Finally, the ranch has its own syllabic poetry form written in 99 syllables!

The Double Ennead comprised five lines with a syllable count of 6/5/11/6/5, (33 SYLLABLES per stanza) 3 STANZAS EACH = 99 SYLLABLES, NO MORE, NO LESS!

The twist in crafting the Double Ennead was that poets had to choose five consecutive words from the poem, “The Springtime Plains,” from Cowboy Poet, Charles Badger Clark, found at the link below:

https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-springtime-plains/

The five words had to be reworked into one stanza following this word placement:

Line 1 starts with word 1

Line 2 ends with word 2

Line 3 starts with word 3

Line 4 ends with word 4

Line 5 starts with word 5

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meet Jonathan Cormur and the Dorktales storytime podcast

Meet Jonathan Cormur and the Dorktales Storytime Podcast – #readilearn

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.

About Jonathan Cormur

Continue reading: Meet Jonathan Cormur and the Dorktales Storytime Podcast – readilearn