Category Archives: Celebrations

Smorgasbord Christmas Posts from Your Archives – 10 reasons for including Christmas in the classroom by Norah Colvin

I’m honoured to once again be featured among Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Archive Posts. This time it’s about including Christmas in the classroom. Thank you, Sally. 🙂

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Today we continue with the series of posts from the archives of educator Norah Colvin.  Norah talks us through making a very special Christmas decoration.

10 reasons for including Christmas in the classroom by Norah Colvin

The end of the school year in Australia is fast approaching; assessment is almost done and reports completed.

After a hectic year, thoughts are turning towards Christmas and the long summer holidays.

However the teaching and learning in the classroom doesn’t stop until the final farewells on the last day of school.

These last few weeks of the school year allow a little more flexibility and time for spontaneous explorations of children’s interests after the curriculum’s imposed learnings have been achieved. Sure, skills still need to be practised and extended but the pressure is not so relentless.

As the thoughts of most children are on Christmas and what they will do during the…

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readilearn – 6 Fine motor Christmas activities for the classroom and home – Readilearn

In this post, I welcome early childhood educator Johanna Clark to the blog with ideas for developing fine motor skills in fun Christmas activities that are suitable for both the classroom and home.

These activities supplement existing readilearn Christmas activities and suggestions that can be provided to parents to keep children engaged in reading, writing and mathematical thinking over the holidays.

Johanna Clark is an early childhood educator, with a background in early primary teaching. She is passionate about developing children’s early literacy and fine-motor skills in the years before formal schooling begins to build a solid foundation for learning. She believes in creating a classroom that children love coming to every day, and that helps all children to succeed.

In her spare time, she can be found reading or crocheting (or both!). She also combines her teaching and creativity by designing handmade, educational toys for her small business and Etsy shop, ‘Jo and Co. Design’. She specialises in crochet dolls and felt travel games.

She has two small children who love testing out her new toy designs and raiding her picture book collection!

Over to you Johanna.

Whether December in your classroom means the end of the school year or the end of the calendar year, it’s always fun to work some Christmas-themed activities into the schedule. It’s a great way to discuss students’ own experiences and expose them to different ways of celebrating, both around the world or in their own community.

Fine motor skills are so important to develop, in pre-school settings, the first 3 years of schooling and beyond! They allow children to build their hand-eye coordination, concentration and finger/hand/arm muscles. All of these skills are needed for pencil grip, using scissors and other general life skills such as buttoning, zipping and using cutlery.

So why not combine fine-motor skills and Christmas?

Following are some ideas for Christmas themed fine motor activities that can be used both in the early years classroom and at home. Most are suitable for small groups or independent work and some can even be used to decorate your classroom and share the festive spirit!

Continue reading: readilearn – 6 Fine motor Christmas activities for the classroom and home – Readilearn

Five of the best

Children's books tag

Warning! I’ve been tagged. It can be contagious.

Kids’ Storyworld tagged me and asked me to join in. I don’t normally do this but I’m making an exception. How could I not – it’s about children’s books.

I’m required to nominate my top five children’s books, then nominate another five people to join in!

Rules:

  1. Thank whoever’s nominated you and share their blog link.
  2. Let us know your top 5 children’s books
  3. Nominate 5 people to do the same
  4. Let your nominees know you nominated them

Right, let’s get to it.

  1. Thank you, Kids’ Storyworld.
  2. Top 5 children’s books. Now this is going to be hard. Only five! But you know, when I interview authors and illustrators for the readilearn interview series, I ask them for just one favourite. Five has to be easier, right; so, I can’t complain.

These are five of my favourite children’s books

The BFG by Roald Dahl

The BFG by Roald Dahl – I love the humour, and love to read it aloud to children. It is such fun.

The Iron Man Ted Hughes

The Iron Man by Ted Hughes – I love the poetry of language and the way the story builds. It is also a perfect read aloud.

Whoever You Are Mem Fox

Whoever You Are by Mem Fox – I love the message: although we are diverse we share a common humanity.

One Less Fish Kim Michelle Toft

One Less Fish by Kim Michelle Toft – This was the first of Kim’s books I read. I love the message about protecting the natural environment and adore her silk paintings that illustrate the book.

Heidi Johanna SpyriInside Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Heidi by Johanna Spyri – I received a beautiful illustrated edition of this book from Santa (inscribed by my Mum) when I was nine years old. I remember waking up to find it at the foot of my bed and watching the title and cover picture appear as day dawned. I read and re-read it. I still own it. It has to be on my list, doesn’t it?

Do I really have to stop at five?

  1. Nominating five people to share their favourite five children’s books is fairly easy. I know many who write about children’s books, though some of them have already been nominated, so I can’t nominate them again.

You are invited

Maybe you don’t write about children’s books but would like to share your favourites anyway. Please consider this invitation inclusion. If you would like to join in, please do.

Alternatively, if you are one of the people I nominate, and you’d rather not join in, or have already been nominated, it’s okay to decline.

Here are my five:

Robbie Cheadle blogs at Robbie’s Inspiration and writes the Sir Chocolate Books. I wonder if she’ll nominate her own books. Why not?

Patricia Tilton blogs at Children’s Books Heal where she reviews picture books that she believes will help children through tough times. Patricia reads so widely, I think she’ll have more trouble than I with this one. (Sorry, Patricia.)

Vanessa Ryan blogs at Educate.Empower and especially promotes books about the environment and sustainability. I wonder if Vanessa’s choices will reflect those interests.

Jennie Fitskee blogs at A Teacher’s Reflections with inspirational posts about educating young children. She often shares books she reads aloud with her little ones. What will she share with us?

Mary Wade blogs at HonorsGradU sharing a lot of good sense and great ideas for teachers and parents. I’m interested to see what will influence her book choices.

  1. I’ll definitely let the nominees know they’ve been tagged.

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

love of reading to young children in early childhood education

Readilearn: Wrapping up a year of books – the gift of reading

The love of reading is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child.

Reading is empowering, and a book is a gift that continues to give, long after the occasion has past. It’s effects cannot always be measured.

To help you decide which books to give to whom for Christmas, I thought I’d make your task a little easier by reminding you of the lovely books I shared throughout the year in interviews with their authors and illustrators.

Below you will find a list the books and their authors and illustrators. I also include links to

  • the interview on the blog
  • the interview in the Author or Illustrator Spotlight
  • the creative’s website
  • a place where the book may be purchased.

Many of these authors and illustrators have more than one book, some for readers in other age groups, including adult, so please check out their websites for additional information.

At the conclusion of the post, I list other books read and enjoyed. Sadly, there’s just not enough time for all the interviews I’d love to do.

Of course, the list is not exhaustive. These are just a few suggestions to get you started. Enjoy!

Continue reading at:  Readilearn: Wrapping up a year of books – the gift of reading

readilearn: Celebrating Christmas in the classroom

As December draws nigh, thoughts all over the world turn to celebrations of Christmas, a time for spreading joy through sharing acts of friendship and kindness to others.

Those of us in the Southern Hemisphere are also thinking about finalising the school year and taking a much-deserved long summer break.

Before we do, we look for ways of celebrating Christmas in the classroom while maintaining children’s focus and keeping them engaged in meaningful learning until the final moments of the school year.

While there are a variety of readilearn resources already existing to help you do that, this week I have uploaded four more, all of which support use of the popular interactive digital story Who’s hiding at Christmas?

Who's hiding at Christmas template

The Who’s hiding at Christmas -template is a printable resource with both template and instructions for children to make their own Who’s Hiding at Christmas book based upon the original. Children love to share their own Who am I? puzzles, and, as well as providing ongoing practise with both reading and writing skills, the booklets make a lovely gift for sibling or parent.

Continue reading: Celebrating Christmas in the classroom

Readilearn: Introducing Kim Michelle Toft, author and illustrator

Kim Michelle Toft

This month it is my great pleasure to invite Kim Michelle Toft to the blog. I have been an admirer of Kim’s work for many years. Not only does she do the most marvellous and unique silk paintings to illustrate her work, her books inspire children, and adults, to share her passion for protecting the ocean and its inhabitants.

I have previously written about Kim’s work here, here and here. In this post I am talking with her about her innovation of the familiar Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Kim’s book The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas is a celebration, not only of the season, but of the beauty of our world and its gift to us. Our gift in response is to care for and preserve it. As well as information about all the animals featured, it includes a stunning six-page foldout poster as well as information about the original carol.

Welcome to readilearn, Kim. We are looking forward to getting to know you better.

Thank you for having me.

Kim, you tell your stories with words and pictures? When did you know you wanted to be a storyteller and share your stories with others?

I started drawing when I was 4 years old. I would spend hours on my own, drawing. My mother would buy me small Golden Books and take me to see all the Walt Disney movies. I knew then that I wanted to have a career in art. I started writing and illustrating my picture books when my daughter Casey arrived, 26 years ago.

Continue reading: Readilearn: Introducing Kim Michelle Toft, author and illustrator

Inspiring creativity – celebrating Dot Day – Readilearn

inspiring creativity - dot day

Next Friday 15 September is International Dot Day, a day for celebrating and promoting creativity, courage and collaboration.

Celebration of the day was initiated in 2009 with teacher Terry Shay introducing his class to the picture book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.

The story is of Vashti and a teacher who encouraged her to make a mark and have a go. Lacking self-belief and courage, Vashti was reluctant to participate in art class. When the teacher framed and hung her signed painting of a tiny dot, Vashti was determined to do better. She painted all kinds of dots that wowed the people at the school art fair. What happened when one little boy admitted to Vashti that he wished he could draw will inspire children everywhere to be brave, have a go, and be creative.

For a wealth of celebratory suggestions, visit the International Dot Day Get Started page and sign up to download a free Educator’s Handbook, which includes a lovely certificate of participation which can be printed and personalised for each child.

I have included a link to the page in the new resource Getting creative with dots in which I suggest additional ideas to add to the celebration.

getting creative with dots

The suggestions, of which examples are shown below, can be used in conjunction with International Dot Day, or any day when you feel like going a little dotty.

Continue reading: Inspiring creativity – celebrating Dot Day – Readilearn