Author Archives: Norah

About Norah

Early childhood educator and resource developer.

teaching about sea turtles in science curriculum in early childhood classrooms from P-2

readilearn: Teaching about living things in early childhood classrooms – turtles

Teaching about living things has an important place in early childhood classrooms. In the science curriculum in their first few years of school, children learn

  • What is a living thing
  • Needs of living things
  • Features of living things
  • Life stages of living things

I have previously written about keeping and observing minibeasts in the classroom, learning about life on a farm, learning about living things – sea turtles, and observing animals in the local environment. In addition to the teaching ideas suggested in the blog posts, there are many resources in the science collection to assist you with your work.

Let's find out abut sea turtles is an interactive digital non-fiction texts about sea turtles, for children in their first three years of school

This week, in celebration of World Turtle Day on 23 May and World Environment Day coming up on 5 June, I have uploaded new resources to support learning about sea turtles and the existing non-fiction digital text Let’s find out about Sea Turtles.

Continue reading: readilearn: Teaching about living things in early childhood classrooms – turtles

image of house with sold sign to support flash fiction story

Is the value of property more than money?

Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch flash fiction prompt property values

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about property values. Perhaps its a home, business or pencil museum. What makes them go up or down? Go where the prompt leads.

In my response, I’m adding a little more to Marnie’s story. As soon as she could, Marnie disappeared from her abusive family. It was years after her parents had died that the authorities found her. Though she’d travelled back to view the house in which she’d spent her early years, it held no fond memories and she instructed the solicitors to sell. In doing so she thought she’d closed the door on that chapter of her life.

This event occurs some months later and suggests that perhaps property values, as beauty is, are often in the eyes of the beholder.

Property values

The letter lay unopened for weeks. She had no more interest in its contents than she had in the house. She’d finished with all that when she told them to sell. Why were they contacting her now?

When a second envelope arrived bearing the same logo she thought to bin them both, but hesitated, and opened the first.

A cheque? She squinted at the numbers, then held it to the light. She counted the zeros, again. Really? How could a property that held so little value for her hold so much for someone else?

The second letter explained — developers.

Thank you blog post

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readilearn: Meet the author-illustrator team for Turtle Love – Renee Hills and Anna Jacobson

Do you love turtles? I find these magnificent creatures of the sea fascinating. Although I already owned a collection of picture books about turtles, I couldn’t resist supporting local author Renee Hills publish her first picture book Turtle Love, illustrated by Anna Jacobson, through Pozible at the end of last year. I was delighted when I received my very own copy of this beautiful picture book with its warm and empowering story that engages young children and invites them to be proactive about the welfare of other creatures.”

Synopsis

Turtle Love is about Jacob Gordon Lachlan Brown who lives on perhaps the most interesting and beautiful beach in the world. The flatback turtles agree. They come every summer to lay their eggs. But life is becoming more difficult for the turtles because the big ships that load coal are stirring up sediment and this affects the seagrass that the turtles eat.  And this beautiful beach is where they MUST come to nest. Why don’t the flatback turtles go somewhere else? What can Jacob do to help them?

The text explores themes including the impact of man-made coastal developments on the habitat of other species; how to advocate for threatened creatures and the right of all living beings to have a safe place to nest and live. As a bonus, the book contains a story within a story, a mythical explanation for the beautiful coloured rock landform on the beach where the turtles nest.

About the author

Renee Hills has been writing ever since she won a prize for an essay about the future when she was a country North Queensland kid. After graduating and working briefly as a teacher, Renee honed her writing skills as a print journalist, editor, and self- publisher.

Continue reading: readilearn: Meet the author-illustrator team for Turtle Love – Renee Hills and Anna Jacobson

flash fiction story about cranes

Cranes – That’s stretching it!

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills wrote about the different species of crane that inhabit North America and included an image of the stunning crowned grey crane.

crowned crane as part of the Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge

I was fascinated by the story of an ornithologist and a crane and, when she challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story defining “the charisma of cranes”, I wondered why my mind drew a blank. I struggled to recall ever seeing a crane.

Charli’s additional information that “For centuries, cranes have inspired art and philosophy” and her suggestion that, “You can write a crane story or create something new out of the phrase. Go where the prompt leads”, didn’t make it any easier.

I consulted my favourite book of Birds of Australia. It listed only two cranes. One I knew of as the Brolga. The other, the Sarus Crane, I hadn’t heard of.

An online check confirmed the two species. The Brolga is famous for its dance and features in many Aboriginal legends and dances. At over 1 m tall and with a wingspan of 2.4 m, it is one of Australia’s largest flying birds. The Sarus Crane is rare and lesser known.

To my embarrassment, I also discovered that the Brolga is the bird emblem of my home state Queensland and appears on its Coat of Arms. Information about the Coat of Arms tells me that the Brolga is one of Queensland’s most distinctive birds and “symbolises the native population”.

Follow this link for information about the importance of the Brolga to Indigenous Australians and a video of an Aboriginal story.

More familiar to me are the cranes that dot the ever-changing city skyline as new buildings creep skywards.

For my response to Charli’s prompt, I’ve avoided the birds and employed two other meanings of crane. It might be stretching it a bit, but I hope you like it.

Living the nightmare

The shaft of light reflecting from the mirror jolted her awake.

“What time is it?” She fumbled for her phone. “Hell!” All night she’d craved sleep, then slept through. She pulled on yesterday’s clothes, ruffled her hair and charged out.

People packed the square so tight she couldn’t squeeze through. She craned her neck but, even on tiptoes, couldn’t see. She pushed into the tiniest gap on a ledge, only to be elbowed off. But she’d spotted a cherry picker. She climbed in, pushed a button and up she went; just as the crowd dispersed. She’d missed out again.

Thank you blog post

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Rough Writers Tour Around the World

Rough Writer Tour: Happy Trails

And so, the Rough Writers Tour Around the World is over. We’re back at the ranch with the lead Buckaroo Charli Mills, wrapping up the first adventure. This tour might be over, but the journey has just begun. Charli says, “Through writing together on projects of creative expression, we are on the trail to happiness. We ride the trail of peace.”
I respond, “The pen is mightier than the sword. Together our voices are stronger than one, but we don’t speak as one, we speak as a collective of individuals, supporting, and receiving the support of, an amazing leader. Doubters may have considered your vision a puff of cloud easily erased. But it is a rainbow of inspiration under which unicorns dance, writers write and readers read. How delighted I am to have shared in the journey.
If you haven’t yet, come and join us at the Carrot Ranch. There’s always room for more in the posse on the trail to happiness and peace.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Trails don’t ever end, even those headed into the setting sun of the iconic west. Our Rough Writer Tour has trailed around the world, and this is our last stop, but not the final destination.

When I was younger, I feared I’d run out of ideas to write. Now that I’m older, I know I’ll run out of days before the well of story ideas runs dry. Each week, I continue to marvel at the creative responses to a single prompt framed within 99 words, no more, no less. And each of those stories become beginnings.

Imagine taking all that creativity and harnessing it to one wagon. Now that’s a trail drive, and that’s the power of The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1. Thirty-three writers banded together and created a compelling work of literary art.

The anthology extends far beyond that of a collection. It’s…

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teaching phonics and initial letters and sounds in an early childhood classroom

readilearn: Teaching phonics and letter-sound relationships in early childhood classrooms – Readilearn

Teaching phonics and letter-sound relationships is an important part of literacy education in early childhood classrooms. To be fluent readers and writers we need to understand the relationship that exists between the letters and sounds of our language. This knowledge is what enables us to extract meaning from texts we read and ensure that others can interpret the intended meaning in words we write.

The process of expressing thoughts in writing can be laboured for young children as they stretch out words to identify individual sounds and the letters we use to represent them. From the initial stages of making arbitrary marks upon the page, children develop into proficient writers through recognisable stages of approximation. Readable writing is dependent upon the effective use of letters to represent sound.

Reading is not so dependent as there are other cues and strategies that readers can employ to interpret a writer’s message. Young children garner information about texts they read from supporting illustrations, prior knowledge of the subject matter and text type (for example, narrative or non-fiction) and understanding of how language works. This information supports their reading which is guided by words they recognise by sight as well as their knowledge of letter-sound relationships.

When teaching children to read, it is important to ensure children learn to use effective strategies that access all available cues. Over-dependence on any one cuing system leads to a break-down in the process. While the teaching of phonics has an important place in early childhood classrooms, I have resisted making resources for teaching phonics in isolation for two main reasons.

Two reasons against making resources to teach phonics in isolation
#1

I believe reading is best learned and taught by reading. Knowledge of letters and sounds can be learned while reading meaningful and enjoyable texts. Teaching and learning can occur in literacy lessons, lessons in any subject, or whenever an opportunity to interact with print exists, which is frequent in our print-rich environment.

I have previously written about some strategies I consider beneficial for teaching reading and will no doubt write more in the future. You can read some of those posts here:

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

Engage Learners with pizza-themed cross-curricular teaching and learning resources

Continue reading: readilearn: Teaching phonics and letter-sound relationships in early childhood classrooms

more than just lines on a page

More than just lines on a page

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) use a line in your story. You can think of the variation of the word meaning, or you can think of visual references. Go where the prompt leads.

As an educator of young children, with a special interest in literacy development, I shouldn’t have needed to think for long. Although, there being so many possible ways of interpreting the prompt, I did. I finally decided on the lines that we as writers and artists make on the page, the meaning we assign to them, and the meaning others extract from them.

Children begin their journey into literacy by assigning meaning to marks they make upon the page and by realising that marks made by others also carry meaning. As their ability to both express and decipher develops, they come to realise that a text or image is more than the sum of the individual lines of which it consists. Communication deepens by interpreting and understanding the meaning conveyed below and between the marks.

The ability to both imply and infer meaning extends to the interpretation of facial expressions, body language and changes in the environment. We can accept what we see at face value or make a judgement about what may be implied or intended. While the messages are often considered obvious, misinterpretation is possible.

In response to Charli’s prompt, I’ve played with interpreting other lines. I hope you like it.

Reading between the lines - signs in the sand www.NorahColvin.com

Reading between the lines

Four lines of footprints stretched along the shore. A line, mostly unbroken, edged one side; the other, a sequence of dots. The smaller prints danced lightly. The larger dragged heavily with one foot sideways. Criss-crosses of triple-pronged seagulls’ prints failed to obscure, unlike the smudge of ocean’s wet kisses. Tiny crabs scuttled their own story tracks through weeds, shells and stones coughed up by the sea. Beyond a collapsed castle, the footprints continued. In the distance—rocks. So far?  He accelerated. Didn’t they know the tide had turned?  Caught in the moment, they’d missed the signs. Lucky he didn’t.

Thank you blog post

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