Category Archives: Early childhood education

what do you love a post about a love of literacy

What do you love?

We use the word ‘love’ to mean care deeply about, as in people, or like a lot, as in food, objects and activities. Questions such as “Who do you love?” and “What do you love?” will elicit very different responses and we generally have little difficulty in distinguishing between the intensity of the feelings. Mostly the whos are more important to us than the whats, and it is easy to distinguish between the likes and the loves, though they can sit along a continuum.

love of vegetables on a continuum

For me, housework sits at the opposite end of the continuum from reading and writing. You won’t find me writing any posts about housework. But you will find lots of posts about reading and writing, especially encouraging a love of reading and writing in children. I find sharing a love of reading and writing to be almost equal in enjoyment as reading and writing for myself. To see children light up with enthusiasm for reading and writing is sheer joy.

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

I have often said that one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child is a love of reading. A love of reading and writing, and indeed for all learning, is the best gift a teacher can give.

the love of reading and writing is contagious

It is often said that a love of reading is caught, not taught. The same goes for writing. It is important for teachers to ensure that there is time every day to read aloud to children, to inspire them and excite their imaginations with wonderful literature and to provide them with time for expressing their own thoughts and imaginative ideas through writing and any other of the expressive arts.

I have written many blog posts, both here and for readilearn, with suggestions for making time for literature and literacy, but it was the prompt set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch that kept me thinking that way this week.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge Valentines

You see, Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about valentines. It can be Valentine’s Day, the exchange, love for another, romance, or friendship. Have a heart and go where the prompt leads!

But, as well as being Valentine’s Day, 14 February is also Library Lovers’ Day and International Book Giving Day.

Why wouldn’t I write about one of my loves — reading and writing? I hope you enjoy it.

Just for the love of it

The teacher closed the book, but the children were abuzz.

“Keep going,” they urged.

“Will they be alright?”

“What will happen?”

The teacher looked at the clock. The minutes had passed like seconds. Was there time?

“Pleeeease!”

The teacher opened the book.

“Yay!” cheered the children, then hushed as the words flowed.

As the story unfolded, their eyes lit up and imaginations sparked. They discussed the story’s intricacies and contemplated outcomes as they journeyed with the author through good and fearsome times. Finally, just as the dragon was about to swoop, the teacher stopped. “Now write! What happens next?”

 

reading is a super power

Here are links to just five of the posts I’ve written about reading and writing:

A sprinkle of this, a pinch of that, and Poof! It’s reading — magic!

Wrapping up a year of books — the gift of reading

I love poems

Reading is all it’s cracked up to be: 10 tips for an early childhood classroom!

Writing poetry with children

And two more about libraries:

Libraries: A wondrous universe to explore — a guest post by Dimity Powell

Libraries, books and reading = infinite worlds to explore

Thank you blog post

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

changes to the way in which resources can be access from readilearn

Announcing: It’s Time for Change – readilearn

Over the coming weeks, we are making improvements to the readilearn site.

During the changeover period, until mid-to-late March, we will not be adding new resources to the collection or publishing blog posts.

Access as usual

If you are already a readilearn subscriber or have registered to access the free teaching resources, you will still be able to log in and access resources during and after the changeover, as usual.

Changes

  1. Individual prices

Once the changes take effect, readilearn resources will be available as individually priced items.

Note: If you are already a readilearn subscriber, your access to all readilearn resources will be uninterrupted while ever your subscription is current. The individual pricing will not affect your ability to access resources.

  1. Cost of subscription

Continue reading: Announcing: It’s Time for Change – readilearn

interview with author Wenda Shurety about her picture book Eva's Imagination

Interview with author Wenda Shurety – Readilearn

This week, it is my pleasure to introduce you to author Wenda Shurety as she discusses her new picture book Eva’s Imagination. I especially enjoy Wenda’s book for its focus on imagination, something I consider very important to encourage in young children. Without imagination, we are unable to see beyond what is and have little chance of progress being made.

About Wenda

Wenda grew up in the beautiful county of Norfolk in England and now resides in Brisbane with her supportive husband, cheeky daughter and two rescue dogs. Wenda loves to write children’s stories with heart; whether it involves diversity, science or the magical world of the imagination.

About Eva’s Imagination

Eva doesn’t know what an imagination is. With the help of her dog Chops, Eva goes on a hunt to find it. Eva’s Imagination is a delightful story about the power of the imagination that aims to inspire young children to find adventure in their surroundings rather than from screens.

Now let’s meet Wenda.

The interview

Continue reading: Interview with author Wenda Shurety – Readilearn

teaching children to read signs in the environment

Reading signs in the environment

Our environment is rich in print. From their earliest days observing the environment, children are surrounded by print that may include words, symbols and images, each portraying meaning in different ways. We see:

  • names of stores
  • signs directing pedestrians and vehicles
  • instructions for entering and leaving buildings
  • labels on items
  • prices on goods
  • timetables
  • banners advertising local events
  • information about landmarks and points of interest

and so the list goes on.

Reading and understanding the plethora of signs is important to independent living and successful negotiation of our print-rich and print-dependent world. Although we often take our ability to do so for granted, one only has to visit a foreign place to realise how much we rely on print to navigate our way.

Helping children to read and understand signs is important, requires no planning and can occur effortlessly whenever parents are out and about with their children. All that is required of the parents is to point them out and explain their meaning.

Very young children can learn to recognise the entry and exit and signs on doors, particularly if colour is used as a clue, and the signs on restroom doors.

reading signs in the environment

Stop signs are easily recognisable as are other road signs such as those indicating speed humps, pedestrian and animal crossings, speed limits and left and right turns. Children quickly come to understand what is happening when the traffic lights change colour, but their learning is always enhanced by parental explanations. On journeys when children might become restless, it can be fun to keep their minds occupied by spotting particular signs.

It doesn’t take children long to recognise the logo of their favourite fast food or ice cream store. Names of other stores frequented by the family can also be pointed out for them to learn to recognise. It can also be useful to explain to children how items are being selected, how you know what the items are and where you locate the price. They can be shown how to use symbols and colours on packaging to identify items they like and may come to recognise (if not read) the names of some of their favourite products.

A fun activity for the first days of school is to provide children with an assortment of environmental print to identify. Often children begin school hoping to learn to read on the first day, little realising how much they can already ‘read’. Reading environmental print boosts their self-esteem and self-confidence by showing what they can do and makes a connection between school and what is familiar to them.

I used to like making an ‘I can read’ book on the first day with my children. I would supply children with a collection of advertisements cut from magazines and product labels that I thought children would readily recognise. I would also print signs, symbols and company logos from the computer.

I would provide children with six to ten pages, each labelled with the words ‘I can read’. Children would then select items they could ‘read’ (recognise) from the collection and paste each onto a page. When they were done, children would proudly read their books to their friends and to me, and take them home to read to their families.

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge signs by Charli Mills

I am thinking about signs in the environment as this week Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a sign. It can be a posted sign, a universal sign, a wonder. Go where the prompt leads.

I could have written a flash about children reading signs in the environment, as I’ve described. Or, still in keeping with my educational theme, I could have written about the signs that teachers look for everyday showing that progress has been made or that misconceptions and misunderstanding exist.

However, the environment worldwide is shouting to us loud and clear, with signs that can no longer be denied, that our climate is changing.

Since the beginning of this year, Australia has suffered unprecedented and catastrophic weather events. Across the country, the land has been ravaged by heatwaves that have seen record maximums in temperatures and bushfires have raged across large tracts of land. While much of the country is suffering from prolonged drought, other areas have been devastated by extraordinary rainfalls and flooding. In fact, some of the farming community, who had been crippled by drought, rejoiced when the rains began, only to lament when the rains didn’t end and the rain and floods caused massive stock losses.

It is of these farmers that I have chosen to write. Some of my family live and raise stock, some sheep and some cattle, in the devastated areas and have suffered enormous losses. The heartbreak is unimaginable. If you would like to help the farmers, you can find out how to do so in this article.

You can read more about the plight of the farmers in these articles:

Flood Affected Farmers Witness Entire Cattle Herds Wiped Out By Catastrophic Deluge

Queensland Farmers Confronted by Stock Losses

Torrential Rain in Queensland is Manna from Heaven for Some Farmers but Catastrophic for others

How to Help Farmers in Flood-Ravaged Queensland

I hope my flash goes a little way to recognising the plight of our stoic farmers.

Ominous Signs

Every day, the farmers scanned the skies for a sign, any sign, that a reprieve from the relentless drought was on its way. The dusty red soil yielded not a single blade of feed for the suffering stock. Bales of hay, donated by city folk, helped but soon it too would be gone. When the rains finally came, the farmers rejoiced. For four days it rained; beautiful, drenching, life-giving rains, soaked up by the thirsty soil. But it wouldn’t stop. It transformed their world into an enormous, red, muddy sea. Hopes drowned alongside precious stock leaving heartbreak and devastation.

Thank you blog post

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

lessons and activities for teaching place value in lower primary classrooms

Teaching place value to young children – readilearn

Teaching place value is a vital part of mathematics programs in lower primary classrooms. This post outlines lessons and activities to teach place value.

Teaching place value is a vital part of mathematics programs in lower primary classrooms. It is essential that children develop a firm understanding of place value right from the start to avoid later confusion and maths anxiety.

Sadly, many children and adults confess to having an aversion to mathematics. My belief is that the aversion is often learned from ineffective teaching methods. For this reason, there is a strong focus on number in readilearn resources with lessons and activities that provide opportunities to develop understanding in fun and meaningful ways.

It starts with understanding number

Before we begin to teach place value, we must ensure that children have a strong sense of number. Understanding number is more than simply being able to rote count or recognise numerals. While even very young children may learn to memorise and recite the sequence of numbers from one to ten, they don’t always understand what the words mean.

Rushing children through to abstract processes before they have developed a strong foundation creates confusion. It sets them up for frustration, fear, failure, and a dislike of maths.

This can be avoided by encouraging an “I can do it. I get this. Maths is fun” attitude.

To develop an understanding of number, children require many and varied experiences using concrete materials in many different situations.

One-to-one correspondence

Continue reading: Teaching place value to young children – readilearn

World Read Aloud Day, Children's Mental Health Week, Chinese New Year

First week of February celebrations – Readilearn

In the first week of February, celebrations include World Read Aloud Day, Children’s Mental Health Week and Chinese New Year.

Readilearn has lessons ready to assist you with each of these celebrations.

World Read Aloud Day

First up is World Read Aloud Day on 1 February—today! The day aims to encourage people everywhere to “read aloud together and share stories to advocate for literacy as a human right that belongs to all people“.

Perhaps no one knows better than teachers of young children the importance of reading aloud. Children who come to school having been read to at home have the advantage of more extensive vocabularies and proficiency with language, greater general knowledge and interest in the world around them, and an interest in books and learning. These advantages contribute to success in school and life.

Making time for reading aloud in a busy class program is a priority for teachers of children in their first three years of school. Opportunities occur in every subject area, and it is not difficult to find ways of working a few extra stories into the program. Why not use World Read Aloud Day as an excuse to read a few more books than usual (as if an excuse is needed).

If you are unsure where to start selecting, visit the library and ask the librarian for suggestions, or take the class with you and ask them to each choose a book they’d like to hear.

The guest post by teacher Jennie Fitzkee on the importance of reading aloud is also full of suggestions.

Five of my favourite picture books (of which there are hundreds so impossible to list) are:

Continue reading: First week of February celebrations – Readilearn

ideas for using puzzles in the classroom to teach logical thinking and problem-solving

What can you do with a puzzle? – Readilearn

Puzzles are a fun way to encourage thinking and problem solving as well as mathematical and language skills. The celebration of National Puzzle Day on 29 January is a great excuse to introduce some puzzles into the classroom. The day may be American in origin, but there’s no reason the rest of us can’t join in the fun too.

I have always enjoyed puzzles; both the fun of figuring something out or solving a problem and the satisfaction in having done so.  My favourite types of puzzles include (in no particular order):

  • Jigsaw
  • Sudoku
  • Crosswords
  • Logic puzzles
  • Block puzzles
  • Word puzzles
  • Lateral thinking puzzles

Puzzles aren’t just those that come in a box, a book or online. Life presents us with puzzles and problems with regular frequency. Most days we will be faced with something that will stretch our thinking in divergent, convergent or lateral ways. It is good to provide children with opportunities to think too. Brief interludes of puzzle solving throughout the day can add fun, energise and refocus.

A variety of puzzles and resources to develop children’s thinking are available in the readilearn collection. Some are interactive lessons ready to teach on the interactive whiteboard. Others are printable for offline use. All provide opportunities for learning in context with the greatest benefit coming from the discussions with the teacher and other students.

Check out this previous post for other thoughts about Logical thinking and problem solving.

Learning with readilearn puzzles

Sorting puzzles

Continue reading: What can you do with a puzzle? – Readilearn