Category Archives: Early childhood education

An Activity a Day Keeps the Boredom at Bay – #readilearn

This article was written for and first published at the Carrot Ranch Literary Community as part of a series supporting parents with children learning at home. Although it is now the 3rd of December, you will still be able to complete most of the activities, especially since many of you will be on holidays and entertaining your own children during December. Enjoy!

With the timing of this post on the last day of November, I have prepared a December Advent Activity Calendar for families (parents and children) to use in the lead-up to Christmas. There is one suggestion for each day until Christmas. In this article, I provide a brief outline of each activity. For those who want more, I have prepared a PDF with additional details for each activity which you can download free by following this link.

  1. Put up the Christmas Tree

It is traditional for Christmas trees to be put up and decorated at the beginning of December. In my family, we try to do it on, or as close to, the 1st of December. If you haven’t put your tree up yet, perhaps it’s time to think about it.

I have provided the outline of a Christmas tree which can be cut, coloured and hung on the real Christmas tree. Write the year on it. On the back, write something you wish for yourself, something you wish for others, and something you wish for the world. Hang it on the Christmas tree. If you do the same thing each year, you can reflect on changes in yourself and in the world.

  1. Make Paper Chain Decorations

Paper chains are easy to make and add colour to the tree or can be hung around the room.

  1. Make a Gift Day

Continue reading: An Activity a Day Keeps the Boredom at Bay – readilearn

Handouts for Parents to Support Children’s Learning – #readilearn

Here at readilearn we recognise that not all learning takes place in school. We know that learning can occur anywhere at any time and continues throughout life. It can be planned or incidental. It can be fun and joyful. It can even cause frustration at times. In fact, some frustration may encourage the learner to push further and try harder to find a solution. That is especially so when the frustration occurs in a purposeful activity in which the learner is engaged and feels a need to solve. Unsuccessful attempts don’t mean failure. They mean it’s time to try again. We see this in situations from a child learning to walk or ride a bike to scientists finding a cure for disease. What we most need to do to develop a love of learning is inspire curiosity and creativity and avoid ringbarking either through confinement.

As the end of the school year in Australia approaches, most teachers and parents are looking forward to the holidays as much as the students are. The last couple of years have been tough with changes to teaching and learning circumstances and the increased involvement of parents in monitoring their children’s school learning at home. While parents may have become more familiar with teaching methods used in the classroom, it is important for them to realise that learning can still occur during the holidays without the formality of classroom exercises.

The most important things parents can do for children, right from birth and through their developing years and beyond, is to talk with them, play with them and read to them — every day. The same can be said for teachers.

I previously shared this wonderful TEDtalk by 7-year-old Molly Wright in a post about The Importance of the Early Years. But it is inspiring and watching it gives me joy and I thought watching it might also give you joy. It is definitely worth sharing with parents to encourage and affirm positive interactions with their children.

We also have some handouts of suggestions which you are welcome to copy and send home to parents. You can find them in the Classroom Management — For Parents collection. They are all free resources and suggest ways of increasing the learning in everyday situations, mostly by being aware of the opportunities that arise incidentally throughout the day.

21 suggestions for maintaining reading momentum during the holidays

25 ways to keep the children thinking mathematically during the holidays

Continue reading: Handouts for Parents to Support Children’s Learning – readilearn

Quoll’s Great Idea by Joanna Tait and Muza Ulasowski — a review – #readilearn

Quoll’s Great Idea is about a Spotted Quoll who has very cold feet in the snow and finds a novel way to overcome this.

Today it is my pleasure to share my review of Quoll’s Great Idea written by Joanna Tait and illustrated by Muza Ulasowski. Muza sent me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

I have always admired Muza’s beautiful artwork and have previously introduced her to you when interviewing her about the beautiful picture book Forest Wonder written by Caroline Tuohey. You can read that interview here.

About author Joanna Tait

Joanna Tait is a medical practitioner, mother of five and grandmother of five with more grandchildren on the way. She has been writing all her life. Quoll’s Great Idea is her first published children’s picture book, with several more currently being illustrated.

About illustrator Muza Ulasowski

Quoll’s Great Idea by Joanna Tait and Muza Ulasowski is a great read allow introducing

Muza Ulasowski established her art studio, Muza Designs, in 2007, set in the leafy western suburb of Brookfield in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The studio is surrounded by a vast array of wildlife who tend to regularly make an appearance in her illustrations.

In 2010, she was invited to illustrate her first children’s picture book and enjoyed it so much, she has been collaborating ever since with Australian and international authors and publishers. To date she has illustrated over 10 published children’s picture books and is currently illustrating several more.

Whilst primarily concentrating on creating digital images for children’s picture books, Muza also specializes in graphic design, designing book covers and book layouts to print ready stage.

She also enjoys creating pencil and charcoal illustrations, acrylic painting, photographing wildlife and creating colourful merchandise from her artwork on her trusty sewing machine.

About Quoll’s Great Idea  — the blurb

Continue reading: Quoll’s Great Idea by Joanna Tait and Muza Ulasowski — a review – readilearn

Priorhouse Interview

A few weeks ago, I was delighted to be interviewed by Yvette Prior on her Priorhouse blog.

I have known Yvette for a few years now and always enjoy reading her posts that share photography, art, humour and wisdom.

School Days Reminiscences of Yvette Prior

A couple of years ago, Yvette participated in my School Days, Reminiscences series. You can read her post here. You can also find out about her books at the end of that post or on her website here.

Yvette has a wonderful way of presenting interviews on her blog. If you are interested in reading our conversation and finding out a little more about me, please pop over to Yvette’s blog to read : Norah Colvin @ Readilearn (Priorhouse Interview)

The Glint of Gold  by Kate McGann and Patricia Ward — Review – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to review a beautiful new picture book The Glint of Gold, written by Kate McGann, illustrated by Patricia Ward and published by Little Pink Dog Books. This post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.

About author Kate McGann

Kate McGann is a writer living in Central Victoria with her partner and two children. She loves to write stories that explore relationships and wellbeing. She is a life-long fossicker of nature’s treasures and is endlessly inspired by the world around her. The Glint of Gold is her first picture book. Visit Kate at her website.

About illustrator Patricia Ward

Being an only child, Patricia spent much of her time living in her imagination, bringing it to life through drawing and illustration. She loves exploring colour and playing with positive and negative spaces. Her work is vibrant and whimsical, with an underlying sense of a narrative. Patricia believes every illustration should tell a story whether it is accompanied by text or not.

You can follow Patricia on instagram and facebook or check out her website.

About The Glint of Gold

A picture book for ages 4 – 7 years

It’s there every day if you look for it. The glint of gold. It’s in the white blossom of our plum tree against a blue sky. Or the sparkles Jack Frost leaves on the drive to school…..A heart-warming story to inspire awareness, gratitude and positive thinking.

What I like about The Glint of Gold

I was immediately captivated by the title and the cover image with the sense of wonder so evident on the young girl’s face. The opening page sets the tone for the book, reminding us of the ‘gold’ that exists in the everyday.

Continue reading: The Glint of Gold  by Kate McGann and Patricia Ward — Review – readilearn

Ready-to-teach Christmas-themed Lessons and Activities for P-2 – #readilearn

While Christmas might be still eight weeks away, for some of you, the school year will finish well before that, and I know many are already planning your Christmas and holiday-themed lessons and activities.

Here at readilearn, we ensure that learning continues when the Christmas fun begins.

Who celebrates Christmas?

Before you begin Christmas-related activities, it is a good idea to conduct a survey to find out which children do and do not celebrate Christmas with their families. While you may already know this, the survey can be an interesting way to begin discussions of different cultural traditions celebrated by children in your class.

These discussions should always be respectful and inclusive. It is essential for children, and all of us, to see that what we have in common is more important than any differences.

How many school days until Christmas?

This calendar helps to count down the last fifteen days of term and provides an opportunity for children to present information about their family’s traditions. The Countdown Calendar can be used to countdown to Christmas or, for inclusivity, to the holidays.

Inclusive friendship trees

Continue reading: Ready-to-teach Christmas-themed Lessons and Activities for P-2 – readilearn

Grandmas are Greater than Great by James Solheim – #readilearn

How could I resist a picture book titled Grandmas are Greater than Great? I was captivated by Kaitlyn Sanchez’s interview with author James Solheim on her blog Math is Everywhere and knew immediately that I would have to buy this book for my granddaughter’s tenth birthday later in the year.

When I was turning ten, my grandfather impressed on me how grown up I was becoming now that I had reached double figures. I’d never forgotten how important it had made me feel. When my grandson turned ten, I wrote him a letter telling him about the significant milestone and what my grandfather said to me. With his little sister’s tenth birthday fast approaching, I knew I had to do something similar for her, but not the same. Solheim’s book seemed just the thing, so I ordered it immediately. I wasn’t disappointed. (I wasn’t disappointed either when I received a free copy from the author, simply because I’d commented on Kaitlyn’s blog. How awesome is that!)

About James Solheim

James Solheim’s books circle the globe and travel through centuries.  They explore the wackiest foods on earth and tell the stories of history through our grandmas.

Born in rural North Dakota in the U.S., he grew up mostly in Missouri.  As a child he wrote and illustrated his own books and looked for lost civilizations and dinosaur bones in his backyard.

He met his eventual wife when he was assigned to sit by her at a spelling bee in eighth grade, with the result that he misspelled “paisley.”  She is now a scientist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  Their two children are imaginative, talented grownups—grown up compared to their dad, that is.

Invite James to your school or organization to give one of his “Think Big!” presentations. These programs help kids set big goals and see the importance of books in reaching them.

He’ll even do an online visit with your school or book group!

About Grandmas are Greater than Great

Grandmas Are Greater Than Great is a humorous, animated, and informative look at the lasting power of ancestors. Explore families, generations, and kid power in this heartfelt collaboration between James Solheim and bestselling illustrator Derek Desierto.

Everyone has two grandmas, and every grandma has her own two grandmas. This cycle continues back through time and history.

Traveling from generation to generation, this dynamic picture book offers young readers a bird’s-eye view of how daily life has changed over time. But despite all the differences, one thing has remained the same: a grandma’s love.

James Solheim’s lively text and Derek Desierto’s exuberant illustrations capture the delights and challenges each daughter, mother, and grandma encountered through the centuries. This rich multigenerational story explores the idea that we are all the product of those who came before us, and it will be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Grandmas Are Greater Than Great includes basic information on exponential growth and a family tree.  It’s a gift of a book for all ages to read with their families, friends, or on their own.

My Review

Continue reading: Grandmas are Greater than Great by James Solheim – Readilearn

Mud Cake Recipe #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story embraces the mud. What is the mud, real or metaphor? How does it transform a character or place? What happens? Go where the prompt leads!

As you probably already know, as an educator, I primarily write for and about children. Mud is perfect for young children. It has such a great texture for play and responds in so many ways when we squish it, splatter it, stomp it, throw it, roll in it. There is something enticing about getting wet and dirty, and children seem to find puddles and mud totally irresistible. I hope I’ve captured a little of that excitement in my flash.

Mud Cake Recipe

How to Make Mud Cake

Ingredients

A patch of loose soil

A generous supply of water from the sky, hose or bucket

Rays of sunlight

A sprinkle of imagination

A torrent of laughter

Utensils

Gumboots

Method

Add enough water to soak the soil. It must be wet, not moist.

Stomp until well-mixed with no visible remnants of dry soil.

Squish the mush by hand until the hands are completely encased.

Spread by hand the gooey mixture over face, hair and clothing until well covered.

Terrorise the neighbourhood.

Leave in place until dry in the sun and the mud cakes.

Thank you blog post

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

Imposter Syndrome #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about an author’s chair. It can belong to any author. Where is it located and why? Does it have special meaning? Go where the prompt leads!

I always loved writing with my children at school. It was such a buzz as they put their stories and ideas on paper. They loved making books of their stories and reading them to their classmates and other classes. In fact, to anyone who would listen. I always provided them with as many audiences as I could as, isn’t that the purpose of writing — to be read? They would take their books home to read to their family and pets. Sometimes I would type up their stories and compile them into an anthology for them to take home and share.

In my class, we were all writers, all authors. Sometimes, older siblings felt they had to share their ‘superior’ worldly knowledge and burst their happy balloons. My story is about that and about the fact that sometimes a belief in oneself is more important than what anyone else thinks. I hope you like it.

Imposter Syndrome

When Dave revisited his junior school, he smiled to see the chair in its usual spot.

“Get down,” his big sister had said. “You’re not allowed on there. It’s only for authors.”

“I am an author,” Dave said, holding up the book he’d made in class.

“Not a real author. Real authors have real books published by real publishers, and their feet touch the floor. Anyway, it’s time to go.”

This time, when Dave sat in the chair, his feet touched the floor. The audience hushed as he opened his real book and began to read. Imposter no more.

Thank you blog post

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

New Books by Norah Colvin at Library For All – #readilearn

This week I received a surprise in the post that I just had to share with you. I received printed copies of 8 beginner readers, all written by me, that have recently been added to the Library For All collection. One of them has even been translated into Tetum, an Austronesian language spoken on the island of Timor that is an official language of East Timor.

While I knew the books were in production, I didn’t realise they were published, so receiving the package was a wonderful surprise. I am absolutely delighted to be able to support the work of Library For All by donating these stories to them. In addition to these eight, two other titles were published in 2019, and there are an additional four titles recently published for which I have not yet received printed copies.

While the entire collection of digital books is available to download free from Library For All through a free Android app, the purchase of printed books from the collection helps to support the work of Library For All.

I first introduced you to  the wonderful work of  Library For All in the post Library For All — A Force for Equality through Literacy. You are welcome to find out more by heading back to the post or exploring their website.

Briefly, Library For All is an Australian not for profit organisation with a mission to “make knowledge accessible to all, equally” through a digital library of books that is available free to anyone anywhere in the world. The focus is on providing high quality, engaging, age appropriate and culturally relevant books to children in developing countries and remote areas.

Printed copies are also available and catalogues of titles can be browsed in the shop.

My titles can be found on my Amazon Author page.

Continue reading: New Books by Norah Colvin at Library For All – readilearn