Category Archives: Celebrations

Death - It's just a stage we're going to flash fiction

Death — It’s just a stage we’re going to

The Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo is over for another year and the weekly flash fiction challenges have resumed.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge Day of the Dead

This week Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the Day of the Dead. It can be the Mexican holiday, a modern adaptation of it, a similar remembrance, or something entirely new. Go where the prompt leads!

I would have to say that, here in Australia, we have been rather insulated from the Halloween phenomena until recent years and it was only very recently that I became aware of the Mexican holiday Dia De Los Muertos, which celebrates the dead, remembering them and celebrating with them as if they were alive. What a wonderful way of keeping the memory of loved ones who have passed, alive.

We are not very good about discussing death in our culture, especially with children. Rather than accepted as a normal stage of life, it is kept secret as if to be feared. Yes, none of us want to go before we’re ready, but there isn’t one of us, as far as I know, who has found the secret of living (in this Earthly lifetime) forever.

The Tiny Star

The-Tiny-Star by Mem Fox

Last week I had the absolute joy of attending the launch of a lovely new picture book The Tiny Star, written by Mem Fox and beautifully illustrated by Freya Blackwood. The book is a joyous celebration of life’s journey from the beginning when ‘a tiny star fell to earth and turned into a baby’ until its return to the night sky where it would be ‘loving them from afar and watching over them … forever.’ The book provides a beautiful opportunity for discussing, even with very young children, the passage of time and the passing of loved ones in a way that is sensitive, respectful and meaningful. It is a book, just like each ‘star’, to be treasured. You can hear Mem read the book by following the link in the book’s title above and listen to her discussing the book with illustrator Freya Blackwood in this video.

The Fix-It Man

The Fix-It Man by Dimity Powell

Another lovely picture book that deals well with the topic of death for young children is The Fix-It Man, written by Dimity Powell and illustrated by Nicky Johnston. The book deals, sensitively and honestly, with a child’s grief at the loss of a parent. The child discovers that her father, who is usually able to fix any broken thing, is unable to fix her sick mother. Together the child and father find a way to support and strengthen each other through their grief and come to terms with their loss.

The Forever Kid

The Forever Kid by Elizabeth Cummings

The Forever Kid, written by Elizabeth Cummings and illustrated by Cheri Hughes, is another lovely picture book that sensitively tackles the topic of death, this time with the loss of a sibling. Each day, on the ‘forever’ child’s birthday, the family keeps his memory alive by celebrating with his favourite activity—lying on their backs on the grass telling cloud stories. Families who have experienced the loss of a child may be moved to find their own ways of remembering and celebrating the life that was. (I interviewed Elizabeth about The Forever Kid for readilearn here.)

Flash fiction challenge

So, back to Charli’s challenge to write about the Day of the Dead. While Halloween and the Day of the Dead have similarities (perhaps more to the uninitiated than to those in the know), they are not the same thing. However, my story is probably more like Halloween than the Day of the Dead. Oh well, that’s where the prompt took me, maybe because of the discussion about Halloween not being an Australian tradition that arises at this time every year, and perhaps because, in the 80s (anyone else remember that far back?) we teachers were instructed to not do anything involving Halloween or witches in our classrooms. That has now been revoked and many teachers work a little fun into their program with Halloween-themed activities. (As I suggested on readilearn recently.)

Anyway, here goes.

Full Bags, Dying Heart

From his room, Johnny watched the parade of monsters and ghouls wending from door to door. They laughed and giggled, whooped and cheered, clutching bags bulging with candy.

“Get inside,” she’d admonished.

“Why?”

“It’s the devil’s work. Dressing up like dead people. It’s not our way.”

She’d dragged him inside, shut the door and turned off the lights.

“We don’t want those nasty children knocking on our door.”

“But, Mum. It’s Graham and Gerard and even sweet Sue …”

“Enough! Get to your room!”

He watched, puzzled—How could it be devil’s work? They were his friends having fun.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading.

Note: I would have liked to write a sequel to this where Johnny sneaks out and joins his friends, but I ran out of time. Maybe another time.

I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

 

learning is fun with Halloween-themed activities

Learning with Halloween fun – readilearn

Halloween is just around the corner and many of us wonder how we can have fun with a Halloween theme while ensuring learning is not forgotten in repetitious and meaningless worksheets.

readilearn teaching resources support teachers in keeping the learning alive while the children are having fun with Halloween-themed lessons.

trick or treat printable game for Halloween

The printable Trick or Treat Game for Halloween is a fun board game for two or more players of all ages, suitable for use in maths and literacy groups, with buddies or in family groups. It combines reading, mathematics, activity, and loads of fun and laughter.

Everything required to play the game is included in the zip folder. All you’ll need to add is a dice and a sense of fun. There are treats to collect and instructions to follow. Try not to be scared by those witches and ghosts and, most of all, look out for your friends.

The kit also includes additional ideas for lessons in maths and writing.

Each of the game components are also available individually to use in other ways if you wish.

Continue reading: Learning with Halloween fun – readilearn

visiting with illustrator Helene Magisson

Visiting with illustrator Hélène Magisson – readilearn

This week I’m visiting with illustrator Helene Magisson to chat about her latest book Sarah’s Two Nativities written by Janine M Fraser and published by Black Dog Books. The book is due for release this month with a launch scheduled for the 21st.

About Helene

I first introduced you to Helene in 2017 when she chatted about her process of illustrating, especially as it related to the beautiful book of poetry Magic Fish Dreaming written by June Perkins. You can read that interview here.

Since the publication of Magic Fish Dreaming, Helene has illustrated a number of other books and now has eleven published books in her portfolio, with more on the way. I am not surprised that Helene is sought after as an illustrator. I think you’d have to agree that her, mainly watercolour, illustrations are exquisite and possess an almost magical quality.

Although Helene now calls Australia home, she has lived in countries all over the world, including Africa, France, and India. That her travels both inspire and enrich her work is obvious in her delightful illustrations that perfectly complement Janine Fraser’s story Sarah’s Two Nativities.

About Sarah’s Two Nativities

From the publisher:

‘Sarah loves her two grandmas – Grandmother Azar and Grandmother Maria. Grandmother Azar tells Sarah stories from the Holy Koran, while Grandmother Maria tells her stories from the Bible. At Christmas time, Sarah snuggles in each of her grandmothers’ laps and listens to two nativities stories about the birth of baby Jesus. They are the same in some ways, and different in others … but both can be Sarah’s favourite.’

Continue reading: Visiting with illustrator Hélène Magisson – readilearn

Spring into September with lots to celebrate

Spring into September with Lots to Celebrate – readilearn

The beginning of September marks the beginning of spring in the southern hemisphere and brings, along with it, many days to celebrate.

Wattle day

Here in Australia, we welcome Spring on 1 September with Wattle Day. The golden wattle is Australia’s national floral emblem.

You could celebrate Wattle Day by:

  • wearing a spray of wattle on your hat
  • writing a poem about wattle flowers and springtime
  • using yellow pom poms to make Happy Wattle Day cards to give to friends and loved ones
  • going for a walk around the school grounds or local neighbourhood to check out the wattle trees in bloom. With nearly one thousand species of wattle in Australia, you are sure to see a variety. Comparing tree bark, leaves and blossoms helps to develop the ability to identify the similarities and differences that support scientific classification.
  • investigating how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples use parts of the wattle tree; for example, for food, medicine, fuel, to make rope, fishing lines, string and tools such as boomerangs. Seasonal changes in the wattle trees indicate other changes that occur in the environment.

Father’s Day

This year, Father’s Day coincides with Wattle Day on 1 September. Father’s Day is a day to recognise the important role of fathers and other father figures. You can find suggestions for easy and inexpensive gifts in the Father’s Day resources, including a free list of Father’s Day Activities.

Continue reading: Spring into September with Lots to Celebrate – readilearn

celebrating three years of readilearn

Celebrating Three Years of readilearn with a Gift for You – readilearn

This week, readilearn celebrates three years of supporting teachers and parents of children in their first three years of school.

In recognition of this milestone, we are offering, until the end of the month, a 50% discount on any readilearn resource, including subscription. To take advantage of this offer, simply enter the code *birthday* at the checkout.

Continue reading: Celebrating Three Years of readilearn with a Gift for You – readilearn

Celebrating Book Week's Secret Power - Reading

Celebrating Book Week’s Secret Power — Reading – readilearn

The CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia) Book Week kicks off tomorrow 17 August for a week of activities celebrating Australian Literature. Book Week is heralded by the announcement of the book awards on the third Friday in August at 12 noon.

The awards are presented to books in the following categories:

  • Older Readers
  • Younger Readers
  • Early Childhood
  • Picture Book
  • Eve Pownall (for information books)

(Click this link to see the Notables, a fine collection of books) from which the Short List was compiled and from which Winners were selected in each category.)

2019 Book Week Theme and Resources

The theme for this year’s Book Week is Reading is My Secret Power.

To celebrate, poet Mike Lucas has written a great poem. You can download a copy of Mike’s poem Reading is my Secret Power here.

The CBCA website provides these useful links to resources to help you celebrate Book Week.

Children’s Rights to Read

Reading may be a secret power, but it is also a superpower and a right of every child. Book Week is an appropriate time during which to reflect upon our classroom practices and consider how well they meet the International Literacy Association’s Children’s Rights to Read. (You can download and support the rights through this link.)

Continue reading: Celebrating Book Week’s Secret Power — Reading – readilearn

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day

Let’s celebrate National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day – readilearn

Ideas and resources for celebrating National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day held on 4 August each year.

This Sunday 4 August, is National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day. Celebrated on this date for over thirty years, the day provides a special opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to celebrate their children and for us all to get to know a little more of their culture.

Although this year the day falls on a Sunday, there is no reason it can’t be celebrated in the classroom during the week. In fact, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures one of the ACARA cross-curriculum priorities, every day is a good day for celebrating our children and helping them to feel special and included.

The theme for this year’s celebration is We Play, We Learn, We Belong. It focuses on the importance of education for young children with special emphasis on the need for it to be culturally appropriate. The website has many suggestions to help you celebrate the day and some free downloadable resources.

In this video, this year’s ambassador, Nanna from Little J and Big Cuz, introduces the day.

Continue reading: Let’s celebrate National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day – Readilearn