Category Archives: Celebrations

Halloween mathematics lessons for the interactive whiteboard

readilearn: Engaging mathematics learning with Halloween themed resources

In just a couple of weeks, people in many parts of the world will be celebrating Halloween. Even in Australia, where the festival has only recently begun to take hold, merchandise now fills our (mainly discount) stores, and children look forward to a night of fun, knocking on doors and collecting treats from family and friends.

The festival dates back two thousand years to its origins in what is now Ireland, England and France. Irish immigrants took the festival to America in the 1800s. Halloween arrived in Australia with immigrants and through its portrayal in movies and on television. Always looking for an excuse to party, Australians are ready to join in.

Originally, the festival celebrated the end of summer harvests and marked the beginning of the long dark northern winters. The festivities have evolved over the centuries with changes to focus and traditions.

I have always thought that adding a bit of fun to the school day helps the learning go down. If the children are going to be distracted by thoughts of their Halloween costumes and what booty they might score in an evening of trick or treating, why not harness those distractions and channel them into learning?

To combine fun with learning, this week I have uploaded three new interactive Halloween themed maths resources for use on the interactive whiteboard. The resources help to develop number concepts up to ten and are available to subscribers. As do other readilearn resources, they acknowledge that it is the richness of discussion occurring between teacher and children that helps to consolidate children’s learning.

Continue reading: readilearn: Engaging mathematics learning with Halloween themed resources

World Smile Day, World Teachers' Day, World Space Week

readilearn: Smiles unite our world

Today is a day to celebrate. It is both World Teachers’ Day and World Smile Day. What a great combination. In addition, these special days also coincide with World Space Week which is celebrated from 4 – 10 October.

World Teachers’ Day

World Teachers’ Day celebrates the contribution that teachers make to education around the world.

This year’s event marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) in which education is recognised as “a key fundamental right and establishes an entitlement to free compulsory education, ensuring inclusive and equitable access for all children”.

This year’s theme is “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher.”

According to UNESCO, “One of the main challenge [sic] to this right worldwide is the continued shortage of teachers. There are an estimated 264 million children and youth still out of school globally, and according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, the world needs to recruit almost 69 million new teachers to reach the 2030 education goal of universal primary and secondary education. This ‘teacher gap’ is more pronounced among vulnerable populations – girls, children with disabilities, refugee and migrant children, and poor children living in rural or remote areas.”

If you wish to support organisations that provide education for people in need, this list on informED might be a good place to find one. I’m sure there are many more and perhaps some closer to home. The focus of The Smith Family, one of the organisations I support, is on helping disadvantaged Australian children get the most out of their education so they can improve their futures.

Having spent almost all my life in education in a variety of roles; including student, teacher, teacher support and educational writer, I know how hard teachers work and the importance of the contribution they make to each life they touch. I also know that sometimes they work in situations that cause them much stress, in which they don’t feel valued, and are unsupported. Sadly, more and more experienced teachers are leaving the classroom for these and other reasons, which will only make it more difficult to reach the 2030 goal of universal education.

Happy World Teachers' Day discount subscription

Continue reading: readilearn: Smiles unite our world

celebrating diversity in a multi-cultural classroom: a parade of nations

A parade of nations in a multicultural classroom

A parade of nations flash fiction prompt by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a parade of nations. It can be literal, or it can be a phrase that you use to describe a situation. Explore what it could be. Go where the prompt leads.

One need look no further than a classroom of children to find a parade of nations. Below is my response to Charli’s prompt, but please read on for information about Multicultural Children’s Book Day, International Day of Peace, and suggestions of books to read.

A parade of nations

The children listened intently, eager to learn. Each family’s wish was for a better life. The group was a parade of nations; with Dragos from Serbia, Duy from Vietnam, Melino from Tonga, Ervine from Scotland, Rongo from New Zealand, Jung from Korea, Sanhitha from Sri Lanka, and Jawara from Senegal; and these were only the new arrivals. Others were first and second generation with but a few who could count back further than three, except for Kinta whose ancestors were the first to arrive. The wall map, dotted with pins to show each one’s heritage, was their proudest display.

While I have taught classes with children from each of these countries, and many more, for the purpose of my story I used the Baby Name Finder at Mom Junction to locate names with friendly, peaceful meanings. It is a very helpful resource.

family traditions and celebrations a unit of work for the first three years of school

It was my experience in such multi-cultural classrooms that prompted me to make a resource to facilitate learning about our own and each other’s cultural traditions and celebrations. The resource is now available on readilearn.

Multicultural Children's Book Day

Used courtesy of Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Thinking about the diversity that exists in our classrooms, our cities, our countries and our world is a perfect time to bring to your awareness Multicultural Children’s Book Day, the focus of which is on “bringing attention to all of the amazing children’s books available that celebrate diversity.”

The co-creators of the event Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen define multicultural books as those that

  • include characters of colour or that represent a minority point of view
  • share ideas, stories, and information about cultures, race, religion, language, and traditions
  • embrace our world and offer children new ways to connect to a diverse and richer world.

On the Multicultural Children’s Book Day website, teachers can find a collection of helpful resources; including a classroom kindness kit and a classroom empathy kit. Authors and publishers of multicultural books are also invited to sponsor Multicultural Children’s Book Day through a range of sponsorship options already open for 2019. Interest in the day has increased in the six years since its inception and that growth can only continue. While it is wonderful to see the greater number of books with multicultural and diverse themes now available, more are still needed.

Whoever You Are Mem Fox

One of my long-time favourites is Whoever You Are written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Leslie Staub. I have read it to many groups of children, every one of whom has loved its powerful message: that underneath it all, we are just the same.

You can read about, listen to Mem read, or purchase the book here.

I'm Australian Too a picture book by Mem Fox

A newer favourite is another by Mem FoxI’m Australian Too. This one is illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh.

This book is a celebration of all cultures and heritages that are represented in the Australian population and together make our country what it is.

You can read about, listen to Mem read, or purchase the book here.

All are Welcome, a picture book by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman

An even newer favourite is All are Welcome written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman.

I first heard about this book from the wonderful Patricia Tilton who blogs at Children’s Books Heal. Patricia’s aim with her blog is to “share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives.” I have purchased many lovely books recommended by Patricia and never been disappointed.

Just as I was completing a draft of this post, I received notification of a new post by Patricia. You won’t believe it, but Patricia wrote about the book again for the International Day of Peace on 21 September. How perfect. Please pop over to Patricia’s post for more details about this beautiful book.

Once, long ago, there used to be a recording of Bill Martin Jr. singing I am Freedom’s Child on his website. I loved singing along to it with my class. The words were especially meaningful in our multicultural classes. We sang, “As I learn to like the differences in me, I learn to like the differences in you.” What a wonderful thought that, with acceptance of ourselves, comes acceptance of others. If we could just do that, we would indeed, all be freedom’s children.

Thank you blog post

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

celebrating reading and writing on International Literacy Day

readilearn: Celebrating reading and writing on International Literacy Day

Tomorrow is International Literacy Day. It has been celebrated on 8 September for over fifty years. The purpose of the day is to remind the international community of the importance of literacy and to eradicate illiteracy around the world. It values literacy education for young people the world over. This year’s theme is Literacy and skills development and focuses on the integration of literacy with other skills to enhance people’s lives and employment opportunities.

In our early childhood classrooms, the focus is always on the development of literacy. A strong foundation in both reading and writing enables children to be more successful learners at school and independent learners out of school. It provides them with skills essential to full participation in and contribution to our world. While we may not be ostensibly training them for future employment, the literacy skills they learn in early childhood form the foundation upon which that learning develops.

The idea of integrating literacy development with other skills is not unfamiliar to early childhood classrooms. The most effective approaches focus on teaching skills in meaningful contexts rather than in isolation.

In celebration of International Literacy Day this year, I have uploaded some new resources to the literacy collection. As with other readilearn literacy resources, the focus is on teaching literacy skills in context.

Continue reading: readilearn: Celebrating reading and writing on International Literacy Day

happy birthday readilearn early childhood teaching resources

readilearn: teaching resources for celebrating birthdays in the early childhood classroom

How do you celebrate birthdays in your early childhood classroom? Suggestions from readilearn help you make a birthday a special event in your classroom.

I’m excited! Today, 24 August 2018, marks readilearn’s second birthday. How quickly those years have passed and how the collection has grown in that time.

When I started out with the goal of reducing teachers’ workloads by preparing lessons ready for them to teach, I made a commitment to upload new resources regularly, write a weekly blog post focusing on topics of interest to early childhood teachers, including suggestions for teaching, and publish a newsletter on the last day of each month.

I am proud to say that I have fulfilled that commitment. With more than two hundred resources added to the collection since the launch, that’s an addition of an average of two new resources each week. More than forty resources in the collection are interactive lessons for teachers to teach on the interactive whiteboard, exceeding the ten percent minimum I set as a target.

Continue reading: readilearn: teaching resources for celebrating birthdays in the early childhood classroom

readilearn: NAIDOC Week Celebrations 2018—Because of Her, We Can

In Australia, NAIDOC Week is celebrated around the country each July. The acronym NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. The theme of this year’s celebration, which runs from 8 to 15 July, is Because of Her, We Can!

The purpose of the week is to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Islander Peoples and acknowledge their contributions to our country. This year’s theme recognises that “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played – and continue to play – active and significant roles at the community, local, state and national levels”, roles that have often gone unrecognised.

The 2018 poster, a painting by Bigambul woman, Cheryl Moggs, from Goondiwindi, portrays the courage and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. You can read, in Cheryl’s own words, the inspiration behind her artwork here.

While most Australian school children are enjoying their mid-year break during NAIDOC Week, many teachers will be looking for ways to share the celebrations with their students when school resumes.

Any time is a good time to incorporate learning about Indigenous cultures and histories. In fact, embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures is one of the cross-curriculum priorities in the Australian Curriculum.  Although I provide links to resources and suggestions that Australian teachers can use with their classes when celebrating NAIDOC Week, I’m certain many of the resources will be of interest to others around the world when teaching about diverse cultures and histories.

The NAIDOC website has suggestions to get you started, and you can download a free copy of the 2018 NAIDOC Week poster from the website too. You can also check out their calendar for events near you. Refer to News for stories of women to celebrate.

In the following video, Uncle Barry Watson, the Elder in Residence with Communities for Children in Logan City in south-east Queensland, explains the

Continue reading: readilearn: NAIDOC Week Celebrations 2018—Because of Her, We Can – Readilearn

A bouquet of wishes

A bouquet of wishes

Do you celebrate your birthday? I do. I love to mark each one. I don’t even mind that the numbers are getting big now, though not quite as big as my grandchildren tease (he says 150, she says 954). I wouldn’t mind a few additional years to accomplish even more, or at least try. But I know I am lucky to have had so many. Not everyone is as fortunate. And we never know how many days or years we will get. For this reason, I think we must enjoy every day and treat it as a gift. That’s why today is called the present, after all.

yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is the present

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bouquet. You can explore the meaning of the word or gather a bunch of flowers. Go where the prompt leads.

You could say that the prompt was beautifully timed to coincide with my birthday, although I hadn’t considered the connection and was struggling for a response until I received these beautiful flowers from my daughter and her partner.

a bouquet of wishes to make your day

It made me think of all the times in our lives when bouquets of flowers are given and received: to share love in both joyous and sorrowful times, or to simply say, “I’m thinking of you.” We are often urged to, regardless of the occasion, “Say it with flowers”. Flowers, chocolate and wine are always well-received. (I was going to say “go down well”, but I thought you might think I eat the flowers too. I don’t.)

I tried to “find” a story of a young boy gathering wildflowers for his teacher on the way to school, but he wasn’t willing to cooperate. Instead, I’ve gone for a BOTS, except for the ending. I hope you enjoy it.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - write about a bouquet

A Special Bouquet

As expected, they found her in her garden with a bouquet of fresh-picked flowers: daisies, forget-me-nots, peonies, zinnias, sprays of bleeding hearts and honeysuckle, a bottlebrush or two, a bunch of gumnuts and some greenery—to make each colour shine.

Her garden was her sanctuary, her confidante, her joy. She said families were like gardens, with beauty in variety. Every special day—birth, birthday, wedding, or funeral—she arranged a meaningful bouquet. In ninety-five years, she’d seen lives come and go. The last of nine, no doubt now who’d be next. How could she know this was her day?

Thank you blog post

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