Category Archives: Early childhood education

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

a selection of multicultural picture books

From my bookshelf — 22 Multicultural picture books – Readilearn

In last week’s post, Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Book Review, I suggested that the day “provides us with an opportunity to examine the collections of books in our classrooms and libraries to determine if they reflect the lives our children.”

I decided that perhaps I should examine my own personal picture book collection too. While I am happy with the collection, there are gaps and I’m sure more could be added. However, I know that a visit to my local or school library will provide me with access to many more.

readilearn’s multicultural teaching resources

As well as investigating my book collection, I had a look at readilearn teaching resources to see how they stacked up.

The establishment of a supportive classroom, one that is welcoming to all, is a recurrent theme on readilearn; as are activities for getting to know one another and establishing friendship skills.

I am proud to say that, when children are included in illustrations, children from diverse backgrounds, even if not in traditional costume, are portrayed. This is intentional. You can see evidence of this on the Home page and in the Literacy and History banners as well as in teaching resources such as Friendship superpower posters and Who am I? Friends at play.

Resources that encourage children to get to know each other rank highly in the readilearn collection. The reason for this is my belief that with knowledge comes understanding, respect and friendship.

Continue reading: From my bookshelf — 22 Multicultural picture books – Readilearn

 

Don't give up - a yet attitude and growth mindset

Don’t give up – Yet!

Discussions of the importance of having a ‘yet’ attitude or a growth mindset abound, including on this blog. I am very much in favour of the ‘yet’ thinking, as proposed by Carol Dweck.

Basically, it means that we don’t consider our ability to learn as finite. We believe our potential to be constantly expanding. We may not know or be able to do something ‘yet’, but we can work at it and with each attempt come closer to achieving it.

The resolve to maintain a growth mindset can be challenged at times when the going gets tough and there is no obvious solution. It can be difficult knowing when enough is enough and it’s time to move on; or if success is hiding just around the corner or on a slight detour.

I often debate with myself about how to interpret the truth in the messages the universe seems to be sending, weighing up giving up against exerting just a little more persistence and patience. Consequently, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the unplanned theme in my response to the flash fiction prompt at the Carrot Ranch this week.

charli mill's flash fiction challenge - colonnades

Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes colonnades. It can be natural, architectural, or a metaphor. Take a stroll and go where the prompt leads.

What could colonnades possibly have to do with a growth mindset you might think, as would I. But when I sat at the keyboard, without a clue of what to write, this is what developed. I hope you like it.

Never Give Up

The solid grey wall stretched without end, both left and right —impenetrable, no way around, no way through. Perhaps a way over? Even from that distance, it appeared unscaleable.

He removed his backpack and rested his head upon it as he lay, gazing upward. He sighed heavily. He’d trekked so far believing this was the way. How could he have been so wrong?

He closed his eyes and drifted into a deep sleep. Refreshed, upon awakening, he decided to continue rather than retreat.

As he drew closer, the wall separated into columns spaced perfectly to allow an easy passage.

Do you see what I saw emerge? A story about not giving up? Of the importance of adjusting focus when it seems a dead end is reached, when there’s nowhere else to go and nothing else to try? Or is the theme significant to only me as I try to find a way through the colonnades in my path?

As I was writing this story, I was reminded of one I wrote for children using the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty as a stimulus. In a similar way to Charli’s prompts, I was prompting children to think about possible reasons for Humpty Dumpty to be sitting on a wall and causes for him to fall.

The accident - an innovation on the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty

Of course, I couldn’t do the prompting without writing a story of my own: The Accident – Humpty Dumpty’s Fall.

In the story, ‘Humpty looked at the wall. He couldn’t see through it. He couldn’t see over it. And there was no way around it.’ He thought it was ‘no use’. Fortunately, his friend Pomble wasn’t one to give up quite so easily and found a way for them to see over the wall. It was what occurred when Humpty was looking over the wall that caused him to fall. I won’t tell you what happened but, unlike the nursery rhyme, my story has a happy ending.

Thank you blog post

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

lessons and suggestions for teaching writing in the first three years of school

Establishing a writing classroom – Readilearn

Establishing a writing classroom, one in which children want to write, develop confidence in writing and develop the skills to write with accuracy and clarity, begins from the first day of school.

Characteristics of a writing classroom

Nine characteristics of a writing classroom are:

  • purposeful writing occurs throughout the day in all areas of the curriculum,
  • the process of writing is modelled,
  • children’s writing is scaffolded,
  • children write in response to set tasks,
  • children write about topics and in genres of their own choice,
  • the message is paramount,
  • writing conventions; such as spelling, punctuation and grammar, are learned by writing,
  • children’s writing is celebrated, and
  • children enjoy writing.

If children are provided only with writing tasks and topics set by the teacher, they may view writing simply as a task to perform, something to please the teacher, rather than as a vehicle for self-expression or for sharing imaginative and creative thoughts and stories or information.

Opportunities for writing occur throughout the day and should include:

Continue reading: Establishing a writing classroom – Readilearn

ideas to start the year off right with classroom organisation

Starting out right – classroom organisation – Readilearn

The importance of starting out right with classroom organisation

Starting the year out right requires preparation and the establishment of classroom organisation routines that will assist the first and subsequent days run smoothly.

An organised classroom contributes to a supportive classroom environment which, from day one, builds a strong foundation of positive relationships and attitudes to school and learning.

Beginning the year as you wish it to continue with a welcoming organised classroom helps children and families feel valued and comfortable in a warm and predictable environment.

Teaching resources support classroom organisation and management

Many existing readilearn resources assist teachers of the first three years of school organise their classrooms to be welcoming and supportive.

A new interactive resource extends the collection.

   

an interactive attendance chart to show who is at school today

 

Continue reading: Starting out right – classroom organisation – Readilearn

holiday activities maintain school learning in literacy and mathematics

Holiday activities maintain school learning – Readilearn

Parents often ask teachers for suggestions of holiday activities that will maintain learning before children return to school. While we neither expect nor want children to spend hours at a desk engaged in school-type lessons, there is plenty that parents can do with their children to keep them curious and motivated to learn. This post includes suggestions teachers can provide to parents.

Some of the best things parents can do to maintain children’s learning are: 

  • Encourage their questions and help them find, rather than simply provide, the answers.
  • Engage children in experiments to discover what happens. Don’t rely exclusively on books or internet searches.
  • Take them on outings and adventures to natural as well as constructed points of interest; such as rainforests, beaches, national parks, marine parks, libraries, museums and art galleries.
  • Talk with them about anything and everything including feelings, dreams, goals, desires for the future, fears, how things work and what happens if.
  • Read to them, with them and beside them. Show them you value reading for a range of purposes including for information and enjoyment.
  • Play games with them—indoor and outdoor games, board games and games you create or construct.
  • Most of all, spend time being with them, enjoying their company, getting to know them, in the present moment. Childhood is fleeting and each moment, precious.

Free handouts of holiday activities that maintain school learning 

There are three free handouts of holiday suggestions available for teachers to distribute to parents, or indeed for parents to access for themselves.

Continue reading: Holiday activities maintain school learning – Readilearn