Author Archives: Norah

About Norah

Early childhood educator and resource developer.

Lessons about recognising and counting Australian coins – #readilearn

Money is one of those things we all need to understand to be able to participate fully in life as we know it. I think it becomes more difficult for children to understand the value of money as we move towards a cashless society, but maybe that’s because I grew up pre-cards of any kind. Now many children only see transactions made with cards or even phones and watches. Many will have no need to enter a physical bank to deposit or withdraw funds or for any other reason. It is all done online. Perhaps learning about coins and notes will one day be relegated to history lessons, but for now I think it is still important for children to learn about them and their value and they still feature in the Curriculum. For this reason, I have made some resources to support your teaching of young children about our Australian coins and their value. (Lessons about notes will be added later.)

Australian coins helps children learn to recognise, identify and describe the coins according to colour, shape and size, and the identifying icon on the tails side. Additional information is provided about the Australian animals and icons featured on the tails side of each coin. This lesson is ready to teach on the interactive whiteboard.

Australian Coins – Let’s count $1 gives children practice in counting collections of coins to $1.

There are three separate sections which can be used over a series of lessons.

  1. Count groups of coins of the same value that equal $1.
  2. Count collections of different coins that equal $1.
  3. Make collections of coins to equal $1.

These lessons are interactive and ready to teach on the interactive whiteboard.

Count Coins to $1 is a dice game that gives students practice in

  • recognising and naming coins
  • counting the value of coins to $1
  • comparing the value of coins.

It is a perfect game for maths groups to follow-up lessons with Australian Coins and Australian Coins Let’s count $1.

Continue reading: Lessons about recognising and counting Australian coins – readilearn

For A Day #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story inspired by the idea, “for a day.” It doesn’t need to be never-ending, like me forgetting to update a prompt. What is so special about the action, person, or object experienced for a day? Go where the prompt leads!

In the post, Charli mentions how difficult it is to be “a transitional generation … a cutting from one’s roots.” It made me think of my mum, and my dad too I guess, who grew up in the country and moved to the suburbs. Like Charli’s children, and unlike most of my cousins, my mum’s children (me and my siblings) were the first generation to grow up in the suburbs. While few of us returned to the country permanently, I think the love for it remains in our veins and we appreciate opportunities we have of visiting.

Charli says, “If you had a day to spend with an icon of your past what would that be?”

That’s a tough one. I’m probably harsh when I think there’s not much in my childhood I’d like to return to. I can’t think of much that’s an icon. If anything is, perhaps it’s the red cliffs of the peninsula where I spent most of my childhood days. Captain Cook saw the cliffs as he sailed up the east coast of Australia (before it was called Australia). Prior to Europeans calling the area Redcliffe, it was known as Kau-in-Kau-in, which means Blood-Blood (red-like blood) by the Ningy Ningy people, the original inhabitants and custodians of the area.

However, perhaps as I said that the love of country still runs through our veins, I should return to my first six years which were lived on a farm. In my memory, I was the best chicken catcher and probably egg collector. I was also good at spotting snakes. I was probably a bit mischievous and even a little destructive (driven by curiosity as I recall) so a bit of a nuisance at times. Maybe no more than my other siblings though.

One day that stands out in my memory was my third birthday. It may not have been the actual day, but it was close to it.

For my birthday, I received a plastic boat and a knitted rabbit that my mother had spent hours making for me. I don’t remember what happened to the bunny, but I may have operated on it or changed its appearance, as I did with many toys, at some stage. Sadly, however, I do remember what happened to the plastic boat.

Living on a farm, it was not unusual for a fire to be lit to burn “stuff”. I can’t remember what was being burned at the time. I do remember being mesmerised by the flames and wondering what would happen to my boat if I threw it in the fire. (What kind of a child thinks like that?) My curiosity overwhelmed me, and I sought the answer to my question. I saw the flames find my beautiful bright red, blue and yellow boat and turn its colours to black. I watched as the boat became distorted, grotesque even, and shrivelled into almost nothing. My curiosity satisfied; I was happy.

Needless to say, my parents were not. And who could blame them? We didn’t have a lot and they would have gone without something to buy me that boat.

I consider that event to be the day my curiosity died. Further experimentation was discouraged, and at school, questions weren’t encouraged. We were told what was important for us to know. While my parents were very much in favour of education, it was more of the ‘fill the empty cup’ variety than the ‘draw out’ type.

My curiosity remained dormant for many years. (Though it can’t have been entirely so, as I remember changing the hairstyles of various dolls ‘to see what they looked like’ over the years.)

I remember it being reawakened by a plastic helicopter owned by my two-year-old son. No, I didn’t throw it in the fire or destroy it by any other means. I was fascinated by its propellor that moved around in a circle and up and down at the same time. I was desperate to take it apart to see how it worked. I resisted the urge. However, the feelings of curiosity I had so long forgotten came flooding back. I spent a lot of time studying it, attempting to figure out how it worked.

I am now passionate about encouraging curiosity in young children and reassuring young parents that their children’s curiosity is not ‘naughtiness’ but a search for answers and a need to know how things work. If the situation is neither dangerous (nor destructive), there is often no harm in letting them find their own answers to the questions.

I guess if I could go back to that one day, I’d find another way of satisfying my curiosity while avoiding destruction and my parents’ displeasure. They didn’t have and couldn’t afford much, but they bought me a boat. To show my thanks, I destroyed it. You can hardly blame them for being cross. Life was difficult and there was enough heartbreak without a small child’s needless destruction. They were, after all, coming from a place of love and doing the best they could. No one can expect more than that of anyone.

After that long, convoluted path, Charli does say to go where the prompt leads, I must now try to weave those thoughts together into a flash fiction. Let’s see how I go.

The Blue Bunny

By the light of a kerosine lamp, when the day’s chores were done and the house was quiet as the children gave in to sleep, but only after a one-millionth drink of water and a final trip to the outside dunny in the cool night air, she knitted a blue bunny for her third child’s third birthday. A baby slept in the cot beside her, and another stirred within her. It took a basketful of creativity and a pinch of magic to feed the growing brood, but stitched with love, a child’s gift was creativity of a different kind.

Thank you blog post

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

Imagine Our Special Place by Kelly Louise Jarris — #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to review a beautiful new picture book Imagine Our Special Place written by Kelly Louise Jarris and illustrated by Sandunika Dissanayake. This post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.

About author Kelly Louise Jarris

As a mother of four boys, Kelly Jarris has been lucky enough to see the diversity in each child, which is how the characters came about for her first book, Wonderful Wishes. Kelly also writes and appreciates stories from life experiences, with her recently released picture book, Imagine Our Special Place. Her sister’s journey with terminal cancer inspired Kelly to write a book that touches on sibling bonds, imagination and feelings of the unknown. The story has been described, “Their imagination takes them out of their reality into other happy places”.

Kelly has a background in veterinary nursing and was once an Australian wildlife rescuer.

Visit Kelly at her website: Kelly Louise Jarris Books | Australian Children’s Book Author (kljbooks.com)

About Imagine Our Special Place

The Blurb

Sophie is unwell and has to go to the hospital a lot. This enchanting story is about two sisters that go on a magical journey. It touches on celebrating life and all its precious moments. Imagine being able to bounce off white fluffy clouds, meet the Queen of all the Rainbows and sip tea from a golden cup made from the sun! Sophie has a beautiful imagination.

What I like about Imagine Our Special Place

Many children have siblings who are ill and have to spend time in hospital. Many children are themselves ill and have to spend time in hospital. Illness and hospitals can be cold, scary places. Imagine Our Special Place with its bright, colourful and hope-filled pages lifts us out of the cold reality into the world of imagination where anything is possible.

Continue reading: Imagine Our Special Place by Kelly Louise Jarris — readilearn

The Swarm #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about swarms. What could swarm? How does the swarm impact the people or place in your story? Is there something unusual about the swarm? Go where the prompt leads!

I was pleased to have an extra week to respond to this one as I was unable to get it done during the first week due to family (holiday) commitments.

This is my response. I hope you like it and that it makes sense.

The Swarm

People swarmed like ants to a plate of jelly. Jodie stretched on tiptoes but saw nothing. She peered first left, then right, but heads blocked any view. There was nothing to hear — no singing, no instrument, no announcement. The crowd was silent and still. Jodie might have left but was trapped by others who’d filled the space behind. “What is it, Mummy?” her child whispered. Frowning faces pressed fingers to tight lips. “I can’t see anything,” the child declared. “Shhhhh!” the crowd admonished, breaking the spell. The swarm dispersed. “What was it, Mummy?” Jodie shrugged. “Nothing. It was nothing.”

So, what do you think? Did it make sense to you?

There were two things that influenced my story.

1. I was in the city recently and saw a long trail of people snaking through the mall. I wondered what they were queueing for, and whether they even knew.

Have you ever noticed that people like to crowd or queue when they see others doing so? I think it may be caused by a fear of missing out (FOMO) or perhaps a need to follow blindly. I’ve sometimes wondered how long it might take for a crowd to form if just one or two of us stood and stared at something (nothing) for a while.

I didn’t join the queue, but of course I was curious about what had attracted them. When I got near to the front of the queue, I could see a large wheel, what we call a ‘chocolate wheel’, that is spun for a prize to be won. Everyone was getting a turn to spin the wheel and win a prize. I don’t know what the prizes were but I’m fairly confident that they were probably nothing that anyone really wanted or needed, and quite likely required spending something to be of any benefit. Whether my assumption was correct, I’ll never know, but I find the whole queueing/crowding thing interesting.

2. These thoughts are similar to the theme of one of my favourite Hans Christian Andersen stories, The Emperor’s New Clothes. In this story, two fraudsters trick the emperor into believing they have designed his new clothes with a fabric that is visible only to clever people. Of course, word of this special fabric gets out to all his subjects who line the streets and ooh and aah when the emperor leads the parade in his ‘new clothes’. The only one who isn’t fooled (who didn’t get the memo) is a child who cries out that the emperor is naked and wearing nothing at all.

What do you think? Was I successful in linking these two ideas?

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Freedom, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Learn about 100 and Celebrate 100 Days of School – #readilearn

The Australian school year consists of approximately 200 days. Depending on the length of terms and number of public holidays in each, the 100th day often falls towards the beginning of the third term in July. Knowing that many of you will be preparing to celebrate the 100th day with lessons investigating 100, I thought I’d share our readilearn resources that support you with that. It’s always exciting to count the 100th day, because once it’s reached, it’s time to start counting down to the end of the school year, which get closer with every day.

Celebrating 100 days of school

Although Busy Bees celebrate 100 days of school suggests ways of counting the days from day one, it also suggests ways of celebrating when the 100th day arrives. Suggestions include: count and collage 100 items and decorate a cake with 100 candles. There are party suggestions and an original game to play. (Also included with purchase of the Busy Bees 100 chart.)

The explanatory Celebrating 100 days of school – Letter to parents suggests items that may be suitable for children to bring in and count as part of the 100 days celebration. It is a Word document that can be personalised with your name and class before printing and distributing. (Also included with purchase of the Busy Bees 100 chart.)

Teaching numbers up to 100

Continue reading: Learn about 100 and Celebrate 100 Days of School – readilearn

Chocolate Anyone? – #readilearn

Next Thursday 7 July is World Chocolate Day. If you ever needed an excuse to indulge in a little chocolate, this could be it. If you follow the link, you will find out some fun facts about the history of chocolate that begins more than 2 000 years ago.

If only we were allowed a little chocolate in the classroom, there are so many wonderful learning opportunities it could provide, for example:

Counting — how many chocolates all together?

Subtraction — how many left if I eat x?

Sharing (children can make equal shares, teachers can have the remainders 😉)

Multiplication — blocks of chocolate are great for arrays (columns and rows of)

Data — surveys who likes/does not like chocolate, what is the class’s favourite chocolate?

Measurement — how many chocolate bars tall are you? how many blocks balance one chocolate bar?

Chemical science — mixing, adding and removing heat, how chocolate is made, following recipes to make chocolate cake and chocolate crackles (just for starters).

Biological science — the cacao plant, where it grows, how it grows, and what it needs.

Of course, while all of these are possible, my suggestions are a bit tongue-in-cheek. However, we do have some absolutely acceptable ideas for incorporating chocolate into your program on World Chocolate Day.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of Michael Rosen. Going on a Bear Hunt is probably one of his better known books, but he is a fabulous poet and storyteller, and his website is rich with material for teachers and children. If you’ve never checked it out, I suggest you do.

On of my favourite stories, that children really love too, is Chocolate Cake. I wrote about it in the post Storytelling with author Michael Rosen.

It’s really fun, so I’ll share it again here.

Source: Chocolate Anyone? – readilearn

Freedom #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about what freedom feels like. Whose point of view do you use? Does the idea of freedom cause tension or bring hope? Let the reader feel the freedom. Go where the prompt leads!

Last week, the prompt was Danger Zone. My story saw a couple of playful children ‘trapped by quicksand’. I thought it appropriate to free them this week. My story begins where the last one finished. I hope you enjoy it.

We’re Free!

Help! Save us!

What’s wrong?

Can’t you see? We’re sinking. It’s quicksand! Help!

I’ll save you! I’ll pull you out!

Quick!

Okay. Stay right there! I’ll get a rope.

Jane, Jane. Quick, Give me your rope. The boys are sinking in quicksand. We have to get them out — before it’s too late.

I’ll come too.

Where are you going?

We have to save the boys! They’re sinking! It’s quicksand!

Quicksand? I’ll help too.

Quick! Grab the rope! Now, everyone, on the count of three, one, two, three, pu-ull! Pu-ull! Pu-ull!

Made it! You saved us! We’re free! Thank you.

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Danger Zone, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

What’s an apostrophe for? – #readilearn

It’s not uncommon to see apostrophes used incorrectly, even in professional writing. But apostrophes don’t have to be difficult. They really have just two uses — for contractions and to show possession. Apostrophes aren’t confusing or tricky when the rules are understood.

To support your teaching of this punctuation mark and to encourage writers to get their writing right, I have produced an interactive resource that explains, demonstrates and provides practice in its correct use. It is called Apostrophes Please!

About Apostrophes Please!

Apostrophes Please! is an interactive resource, ready for use on the interactive whiteboard. It consists of enough material for a series of lessons teaching the correct use of apostrophes in both contractions and possessive nouns.

Like other readilearn resources, Apostrophes Please! recognises the value of teacher input and the importance of teacher-student discussion. It is not designed for children to use independently. It relies simply on effective teaching.

The resource provides flexibility for the teacher to choose activities which are relevant to student needs and teaching focus. All lessons and activities encourage explanation, stimulate discussion and provide opportunities for children to practise, explain and demonstrate what they have learned. There are nineteen interactive slides and over thirty slides in all.

Organisation of Apostrophes Please!

Contractions and possessive nouns are introduced separately.

Apostrophes Please! Contractions menu
Apostrophes Please Possession menu

Both sections include three subsections, each consisting of a number of slides:

  • Learn — explanatory teaching slides introduce how apostrophes are used
  • Practice — interactive activities provide opportunities for teachers and students to discuss, demonstrate and explain how apostrophes are used
  • Check — a review of the use of apostrophes provides additional opportunities for practice, discussion and explanation to consolidate learning.

Continue reading: What’s an apostrophe for? – readilearn

Danger Zone #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a danger zone. It can be an exciting plot-driven story (think “story spine”) or a situation a character must confront. Play with different genres, and use craft elements like tension, tone, and pacing. Go where the prompt leads!

Charli didn’t say it could be nonsense but that’s all I could come up with after a pretty heavy week of writing books about writing for an educational publisher. The work can be draining at times and nonsense is all that is left. I hope it gives you a smile anyway. Smile and carry on.

Quicksand

Stop!

Why?

That’s quicksand.

I can’t see it.

That’s why it’s so dangerous.

It doesn’t look like quick sand.

It never does. Until you start sinking in it.

I don’t believe you. You’re just trying to scare me. I’m going in anyway.

Suit yourself.

Help! Help! Save me!

You don’t look like you need saving to me.

But I’m sinking.

It’s just your imagination.

You said it was quicksand.

I know, but I was joking.

Then why am I sinking?

You’re not sinking. You’re just  — disappearing into the ground? Yikes! It really is quicksand. Help! We’re sinking! Save us!

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Stacking Stones, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Supporting an ‘I can’ attitude with The Clever Children – #readilearn

Fostering self-esteem, a willingness to have a go and an ‘I can’ attitude was always important to me as both a teacher and a parent. These are important aspects of any supportive environment, whether in the home, in the classroom or in the workplace. I have written many posts and made many resources to help you develop a supportive classroom environment. In this post, I feature just one — a story you can personalise for your own class.

The Clever Children is a story about a kingdom in which a mean witch has put a spell on all the people, causing them to be confused and to forget everything they once knew. The king, who has heard about a class of very clever children (your class) asks for their help in teaching his subjects what they need to know. Every child suggests something they are good at and writes and draws a picture of them doing it on a page for inclusion in the book. When the children have taught their skill, the king throws a great party in the castle to celebrate and, of course, the children are invited.

The story not only helps develop an ‘I can do it’ growth mindset, but it helps develop friendship skills too. It was one of the first uploaded to the collection and includes a diversity of children and abilities gorgeously illustrated by Kari Rocha Jones.

The story is available in two formats.

It is an estory, ready to be displayed and read on the interactive whiteboard.

It is also a booklet that can be downloaded and printed, ready to be completed with pages written by your own children.

While both these formats are available to purchase independently, if you purchase the estory, the printable version is included.

Also included with purchase of the estory:

Continue reading: Supporting an ‘I can’ attitude with The Clever Children – readilearn