Category Archives: Christmas

readilearn Lessons for the interactive whiteboard – Christmas – Readilearn

I loved the addition of the interactive whiteboard to my classroom about ten years ago. I embraced the use of computer technology from when I bought my first home computer in 1985 and first used computers in my classroom in 1986. The interactive whiteboard was a way of making use of the technology inclusive. Instead of one or two children taking a turn on the computer while the rest of the class were engaged in other things, we could all be involved at the same time, if desired.

I used the interactive whiteboard with the whole class for introducing topics, brainstorming ideas and explaining concepts. It was great for modelled writing lessons and collaborative reading. I found it particularly useful for demonstrating the processes to follow in the computer lab.

I used some purchased software, but also spent a lot of time creating activities to teach or practice particular concepts or skills. Versions of many of these lessons are now available here on readilearn.

Continue reading: readilearn Lessons for the interactive whiteboard – Christmas – Readilearn

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 Blog Magazine

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…

View original post 1,026 more words

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

That’s what friends are for

At this time of year, minds and hearts turn to friends and family, and contemplations of what we can do to make the world a better place. When we think of global events, we may feel overwhelmed, wondering what possible effect our actions could have. But when we focus on our own circle, any positive difference we make can effect changes of which we may never be aware. That’s the ripple effect, and that’s what friends are for.

I belong to a very supportive online community whose encouragement helps to keep me going.

With my focus on education, particularly early childhood education, and their work mostly targeting adult audiences, I struggle to find ways of supporting them and their creative pursuits during the year, other than the usual shares on Twitter and Facebook.

However, come Christmas time, what’s to stop me doing a little more?

love of reading to young children in early childhood education

In a recent readilearn post, I acknowledged authors and illustrators of children’s literature whom I was fortunate enough to interview throughout the year. You can read that post here. I was also delighted to be invited by Christy Birmingham to write a guest post about them for her blog When Women Inspire.

SMAG Society of Mutual Admiration and Gratitude

In this post, I acknowledge and promote recent works published by my SMAG community; lovely people who support me both here and over at readilearn. SMAG is an acronym for Society of Mutual Appreciation and Gratitude. The community is open to anyone. All that is required is friendship. If you’d like to add the badge to your blog, I’d be honoured. If you’re not sure how to do so, you can find instructions here.

I know I won’t catch all my SMAGgers, but I’ll do my best. If I miss you, I apologise. Please add your details in the comments.

I hope as you read through my list your will find some books to add to your own collection or to gift to another for Christmas, or holiday, or anytime reading.

Carrot Ranch

My first acknowledgement goes to Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch Literary Community.

Participation in the Carrot Ranch weekly flash fiction challenges inspires many of the posts shared here. The support of Charli, Lead Buckaroo, and the team of Rough Writers has been a constant source of encouragement.

Congress of Rough Writers Anthology Vol 1

While we eagerly await the publication of Charli’s two novels-in-progress, she has compiled an anthology of flash fiction submitted to the weekly prompts. The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Volume 1 will be available soon. I am rather delighted to say that some of my writing features in the Anthology. (Check out books by other Rough Writers featured on the Books page.)

Anne Goodwin

Anne Goodwin's books

I very much enjoyed Anne Goodwin’s debut novel Sugar and Snails, and was not disappointed with her second novel Underneath, released earlier this year. Anne is also a prolific writer of short stories, many of which are available from her website. An anthology (Annethology) will be available soon. I’ve yet to read a story of Anne’s I didn’t like.

Sarah Brentyn

Sarah Brentyn's books

Sarah is a micro-fiction expert. She packs a whole lot of story into just a few words. I described her first book Hinting at Shadows as a box of chocolates – bite-sized pieces of dark delight; once you’ve tasted you can’t stop! Her second anthology On the Edge of a Raindrop, just released, holds equal promise.

Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle's books

If you haven’t yet checked out Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate Books you really must. Robbie’s unique style of illustrating her stories with fondant creations will make your mouth water.

The Sir Chocolate Books series of stories were written by Robbie and her son Michael. The rhyming stories are supplemented by the inclusion of recipes and links to YouTube videos.

Debby Gies

Debby Gies books

Debby Gies writes memoir; stories from her life and her heart; stories that will resonate with us, inspire us, make us laugh, and make us cry. When I read Have Bags Will Travel, I couldn’t believe how much of my experience she was sharing.

Debby has numerous books in her collection, including her new release Twenty Years: After “I Do. I’m sure you’ll find at least one to take your fancy.

Christy Birmingham

Christy Birmingham Versions of the Self

Christy Birmingham’s book of poems Versions of the Self is an exploration of the emotions experienced in relationships and the personal growth that occurs through them.

D. Avery

D. Avery Chicken Shift For the Girls

D. Avery’s books of poems make excellent reading. Chicken Shift combines philosophy, humour and utter nonsense by contemplating answers to the old riddle “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Who would have thought there could be so many responses? – Only D.

For the girls explores responses to a diagnosis of breast cancer and what it means personally and to others. It’s a must read for anyone whose life has been touched by cancer. There are few of  us who haven’t supported a loved one as they work through their emotional, as well as physical, response.

Sally Cronin

Sally Cronin's books

Sally Cronin is a prolific author of both fiction and non-fiction. Her most recent publication What’s in a Name? Stories of Life and Romance Volume 2 is a book of short stories in which she explores why we find the names of some people memorable.

Sally is also an amazing support for writers and all things writing. I was delighted to be recently featured in her series Posts from my Archives here and here. Thank you, Sally.

Susan Scott

Susan Scott Aging and Becoming

This year Susan Scott published Aging and Becoming – A Reflective Inquiry, which she cowrote with Susan E. Schwartz. The Susans reflect on life and its effects on the physical, mental and emotional experience as we age. Throughout the year, Susan shared excerpts on her lovely Garden of Eden blog.

Not just books

Pauline King has many lovely crafts and artworks for sale in her Contented Crafter’s Gift Shop.

Robin Etter-Cleave plays Notes from Squire Street on her melodic alto flute.

For an early childhood teacher, a readilearn subscription makes a thoughtful gift. Contact me for details.

For other suggestions, check out last year’s list here.

Apologies again if I have missed your current publications. Please know that each of you is greatly appreciated. The purpose of writing is to connect with readers. If you “like” or share a post, that is wonderful. If you leave a comment and engage in conversation, that is even better still. Thank you.

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