Author Archives: Norah

About Norah

Early childhood educator and resource developer.

Never Too Many Cooks: Literary Recipes in a Flash

How is cooking like writing?
One’s a feast for the body, the other a feast for the mind. For some great flash fiction to get your teeth into (including one of mine!) read on:

Open Thought Vortex

By Charli Mills

A chef in the kitchen is not unlike a writer at a desk.

Both feel the heat of what it takes to transform a raw start into an end worth savoring. A chef chops vegetables to maximize flavor and texture the way a writer slices sentence structure to evoke reader response. One chef favors reduction sauces, and another fuses flavors. One writer cranks out cozy mysteries, and another crafts a character-driven epic science fiction.  A chef is a food artist; a writer is a literary artist.

If you’ve ever tuned into a televised cooking show that challenges chefs with secret ingredients, you’ve seen how varied the results can be. I used to provide some of those secret ingredients to a regional chef show at the Mall of America in Minnesota. For over a decade the foodie culture of Minneapolis-St. Paul immersed me in the artistry of food…

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Readilearn: STEMtastic: making it easy – in every classroom, for every child and teacher

STEMtastic Narinda Sandry

STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) subjects are being rejuvenated in schools. Many of us remember them as uninteresting, unfathomable and seemingly unrelated to anything we needed to know in the real world of our daily lives. Fortunately for us, some “nerdy” types found them interesting enough to imagine, explore and create new possibilities that improve our lives in countless ways.

I’ve previously written about the importance of making space for STEM in early childhood classrooms. In this post I talk with early childhood educator Narinda Sandry who is spreading the word and showing even STEM-averse educators how they can “deliver STEM experiences to every student, every week, in class and easily in an overcrowded curriculum.”

Narinda is a teacher, curriculum writer and advisor. She spent many years teaching in early childhood classrooms, wrote educational materials for the Queensland Museum, and curriculum documents to support implementation of the Australian Curriculum. She now shares her combined love of learning, passion for early childhood education, and interest in STEM subjects, with teachers through her new STEMtastic project promoting “STEM education for every student, every week, easily.”

Hello, Narinda, and welcome to readilearn.

Absolute pleasure to talk with you and your readers Norah.

Narinda, tell us a little about why you feel STEM education is so important in early childhood and all classrooms.

The world we live in is changing, faster now than it ever has before. It is predicted that many of the jobs we know now will be either non-existent or at least disrupted in the near future. Think about the

Continue reading at Readilearn: STEMtastic: making it easy – in every classroom, for every child and teacher

Winner of Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #1

I am delighted to announce the winner of my flash fiction contest “When I grow up”. Judging was a tough job, but we got there in the end.
Charli has made a lovely badge for contestants to put on their blogs. Check it out when you check out the winners.
Thanks for a fabulously fun rodeo, Charli.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

When I Grow Up

by Norah Colvin

Congratulations and a special thank you goes to all writers who participated in the first of the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contests: When I grow up. The judging is now complete, and we are about to announce the winner. Could it be you?

In this contest, writers were asked to write a 99-word story in response to the following prompt:

When I grow up. Cast yourself back to six years of age, knowing what you do of life in the present; what would you want to be when you grow up and how would you go about achieving that goal? Tell us in 100 words, no more no less. It can be real or imaginary, serious or light-hearted. Extra points for comparing it to your childhood choice, if you remember it.

Stories were judged on ten criteria including relevance, capturing a…

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Let’s read, write and spell with Schuyler: readilearn

I don’t normally post twice a week, but this post is really an addendum to the previous post What’s in a name? Teaching phonics, syllabification and more! so I decided to break with tradition and share it.

For the inspiration for this post and the resource it describes, I must thank Pamela Wight, who featured in the author interview last month.

In commenting on the What’s in a name? post, Pamela mentioned the awkwardness of singing and spelling her grandson’s name – Schuyler, a name with which I was unfamiliar. I joked to Pamela that I’d thought of recording a few names, innovating on the tune of BINGO, to show how “easy” it might be. Pamela suggested I should, even though I explained that my singing voice is anything but, and she told me the pronunciation for Schuyler: Skylar. Well, I couldn’t help myself. My head started racing with ideas of incorporating Schuyler’s name into reading and writing lessons teaching phonics and spelling skills. The result is the resource Let’s read, write and spell with Schuyler,

and the recording.

Continue reading: Let’s read, write and spell with Schuyler: readilearn

Readilearn: What’s in a name? Teaching phonics, syllabification, and more! – Readilearn

teaching phonics syllabification

The first words children learn to recognise, read and spell are usually their own names. It’s not surprising, these words hold significant meaning and power for them. Why not harness that energy to teach the skills that are basic to literacy development?

Even before they begin formal schooling, children are able to read and spell their own names; and possibly the names of significant others in their lives, including parents, siblings, other close relatives and friends. When we write their names on pictures they’ve drawn, inside the covers of books they own, on letters and envelopes written to them, as well as on their belongings, they come to understand “that word means me”.

However, not all children are exposed to the same opportunities for learning prior to beginning school. It is important that we make connections with the children and help them learn in ways that are both fun and meaningful.

In this post I suggest some strategies that can be implemented in the first three years of school, starting from the very first day when children can write their names to demonstrate their knowledge of letters and sounds and fine motor coordination. Throughout the early years, children’s names can be used as a starting point in teaching phonics, initial sounds and syllabification.

The ideas suggested in this post are presented in more detail in a new resource uploaded this week:

name phonics syllabification

Name Games – teaching phonics, syllables and reading long words

Suggestions for before, or in early days of, school

Teaching letter sound relationships

An easy way to teach young children to recite the letters of their names in sequence, is to utilise their love of music, singing and recall of lyrics. Even if sung out of key, children enjoy special songs about them and their names. Simply adjust the tune of B-I-N-G-O to the children’s names as you sing.

After just a few repetitions, they are able to join, and even sing their names independently. If you sing

Continue reading: Readilearn: What’s in a name? Teaching phonics, syllabification, and more! – Readilearn

Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #8

I can’t believe it! We’ve arrived at the final contest in the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo. We’ve been writing two stories a week all through October. I think I’ll be suffering withdrawal symptoms next month!
But this last one will keep me going for a while. It’s TUFF! If you remember George Smilovici from the eighties, you’ll recognise the question, “How TUFF?”   Not too tuff for us! Let’s join in and give it a go.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

TUFF: The Ultimate Flash Fiction

by Charli Mills

What if I told you that writing flash fiction will get you to where you want to be? Would you scoff, or consider the possibility? Would you think I’m handing you a magic elixir? Ah, an elixir. Let’s pause a moment and talk about the hero’s journey.

If you answered the call to participate in the Flash Fiction Rodeo this past month, you answered the same call every hero hears: the one the hero reluctantly answers. We think of heroes as Thor or Wonder Woman. Yet, the hero’s journey calls to us all. Winnie the Pooh and Frodo and Mary Tyler Moore are all heroes. It’s about the path:

  1. The call: the opening scene in which the hero is called out of the ordinary world.
  2. The test: the story develops conflict through tests, challenges, temptations, allies and enemies.
  3. The cave

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Teaching critical thinking in early childhood classrooms with The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Readilearn

teaching critical thinking

Teaching critical thinking in early childhood classrooms is important. Discussions about The Very Hungry Caterpillar can help develop critical thinking

Continue reading: Teaching critical thinking in early childhood classrooms with The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Readilearn