Category Archives: Early childhood education

maths lessons and activities for 5 - 7 year-olds

Maths Lessons and Activities for 5–7 year olds – #readilearn

Maths is fun in the early childhood classroom as we count, measure and problem solve our way through the day. With the International Day of Mathematics coming up soon on 14 March, there’s no better time to think about ways of incorporating a little more maths into the daily program. While there are some suggestions on the International Day of Mathematics website, most of them are more suited to older children.

Here at readilearn we have over 100 mathematics lessons and activities ready to support your teaching and children’s learning. Many of the resources are digital lessons ready for you to teach on the interactive whiteboard. Some are printable activities to follow up and extend children’s learning, while others provide instructions and explanations for mathematical explorations.

Plan a party to celebrate

There’s nothing like a party to instigate some mathematical thinking.

If you decide to have a party to celebrate the day, you could start ahead with the interactive problem solving story Little Koala’s Party. In the story, children help Little Koala work out the number of guests as well as food and other items required for the party. They can use the same strategies to plan a party of their own. Other resources, like invitation notepaper and a paper hat template, help to extend the learning across curriculum areas.

While you might ask children to bring food from home to share at the party, following recipes together at school involves children in using mathematics in real and purposeful ways. They may need to count, and measure quantities as well as time. Recipes can be found in the Cooking section.

Continue reading: Maths Lessons and Activities for 5–7 year olds – readilearn

You Can be a Writer by Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Who can be a writer? You can! – #readilearn

I always enjoyed writing with children — the entire process. We saw story potential everywhere and found inspiration in the things they said or did as well as in everyday occurrences and special events. It was great to wonder and consider the what ifs as we brainstormed and developed ideas and let our excitement pour out in words on the paper. Sharing our original stories with an appreciative audience gave purpose to the process and added to the enjoyment.

In this post, I share a delightful little book called You can be a writer written by author Teena Raffa-Mulligan that encourages and supports children as writers in similar ways. It is great for children to use at home or at school and would be a useful resource for parents or teachers as they foster their children’s interest in writing.

I previously introduced you to Teena when I interviewed her about her fun story for young readers The Apostrophe Posse.

Continue reading: Who can be a writer? You can! – Readilearn

February days to celebrate in the classroom

A Handful of February Celebrations – #readilearn

February is packed full of days to celebrate. The next few days are no exception. Here at readilearn, we support your celebrations with suggestions and lessons ready to teach.

Chinese New Year

Today 12 February is celebrated around the world as Chinese New Year. While the New Year celebrations may continue for up to sixteen days, today is the main day and it ushers in the Year of the Ox. Chinese New Year is a time for families to be, and celebrate, together.

Chinese New Year classroom resources

These resources are always free:

Let’s read about Chinese New Year

Celebrating Chinese New Year in the early childhood classroom

Happy Chinese New Year bookmarks

Other dates include Valentines’ Day, Library Lovers’ Day and Book Giving Day.

Continue reading: A Handful of February Celebrations – readilearn

stickers and stars - how effective are rewards - Alfie Kohn

Stickers and Stars — How Effective are Rewards? – #readilearn

Don’t you love it when you find someone who not only shares your ideas but extends them in ways that challenge and make sense at the same time? I do.

I was recently introduced (in the virtual world) to educator Alfie Kohn. First, I listened to his book Punished by Rewards and am now listening to Unconditional Parenting. The bonus with both books is that Kohn narrates them, so the ideas come across exactly as he intended, and it sounds like he is presenting rather than reading. These books are great for both parents and teachers as well as others in any form of managerial role. I wish I’d had the opportunity of reading Kohn’s work before I became a teacher or a parent for the joy it would have given me in sharing and affirming ideas.

If you are a teacher or parent who questions the real value of offering children stars or stickers in the hope of motivating them or of grading the work they turn in, you will find much of interest in Kohn’s work.  You could begin by exploring his website or dive straight into his articles and books as I did.

Here is an interview he did on Oprah in 2013 about his book Punished by Rewards. It includes some interesting perspectives from teachers and parents with whom you may or may not agree.

Continue reading: Stickers and Stars — How Effective are Rewards? – readilearn

Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess by Deedee Cummings

Plan to Follow Your Dreams on Multicultural Children’s Book Day #ReadYourWorld – #readilearn

Today, the last Friday in January, is Multicultural Children’s Book Day. I am delighted to participate once again by spreading the word about Multicultural children’s books.

In this post I review the picture book Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess, which will be released in the northern spring of 2021 by Make a Way Media, publishers of diverse books.  The book can be pre-ordered from their website. The author gifted me a copy to review.

About Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess

Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess, written by Deedee Cummings and illustrated by Charlene Mosley, was inspired by the life of Deedee’s own real-life princess, Broadway actress Kayla Pecchioni.

Kayla’s mum is a busy working mum. She wakes Kayla before she leaves for work in the mornings and asks her about her plans for the day. She tells Kayla that plans give you hope and hope gives you dreams. Often, Kayla doesn’t see her mother again as she gets home after Kayla has gone to bed.

But one day, Dad tells Kayla she can stay up late because her mum has some exciting news. When her mum tells Kayla that she has received a promotion that she worked hard to earn, she also gives Kayla a tiara and tells her that it is to always remind her that she is special, regardless of what others might do, say or think. Kayla went to sleep believing the world to be a magical place and knowing that, with a plan, she could make her dreams come true.

This book is the first in a five-part series about Kayla.

What I like about this book

I wasn’t aware of Kayla Pecchioni before reading this book but am delighted to learn about her and her determination to be successful. The story shows the importance of family in developing confidence and providing opportunities for young people to be who they want to be.

Like many, Kayla’s mother felt guilty about not having more time to spend with her daughter. However, the book shows that love and encouragement and being a good role model is equally important as time.

As author Deedee Cummings says, “Daughters learn their place in the world by watching their mothers claim theirs.”

Many young children will be able to identify with Kayla’s situation and be encouraged to feel the same sense of worth, determination and possibility as Kayla does. I especially like the focus on growth and determination to achieve your goals and dreams.

About Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children's Book Day
Used courtesy of Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Continue reading: Plan to Follow Your Dreams on Multicultural Children’s Book Day #ReadYourWorld – readilearn

learning about gender pronounds on Multicultural Children's Book Day

Learning about Gender Pronouns on Multicultural Children’s Book Day #ReadYourWorld – #readilearn

Today, the last Friday in January, is Multicultural Children’s Book Day. I am delighted to participate once again by spreading the word about Multicultural children’s books.

In this post I review the picture book Jamie and Bubbie, recently published by Free Spirit Publishing and gifted to me to review.

About Jamie and Bubbie

Jamie and Bubbie, A Book about People’s Pronouns was written by Afsaneh Moradian and illustrated by Maria Bogade. In a gentle way, it introduces children and adults to the appropriate use of pronouns when another’s gender is unknown.

Jamie loves his great grandmother Bubbie and, when she comes for a visit they go for a walk around the neighbourhood. On the way, they meet some friends and strangers. In her references to or about the people, Bubbie often uses an inappropriate pronoun. Jamie gently explains why the pronoun is inappropriate and what she could use instead.

What I like about this book

Jamie and Bubbie is a book for our times, and a necessary one. It not only educates us adults about the appropriate use of people’s pronouns, it helps us explain them to children in simple language and easy-to-understand ways. I like Jamie’s gentle and tactful approach, and also that it is the child who does the explaining to great grandma in the book.

However, even more than that, I like the notes for teachers, parents and caregivers in the back of the book. The notes explain the importance of using the names and pronouns that individuals choose to use about themselves. They include suggestions for finding out those pronouns and what to use if you don’t know them. Advice for discussing pronouns with children is also provided as are suggested sources of further information.

I think the information provided in this book is important for all of us to know.

About Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children's Book Day
Used courtesy of Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Continue reading: Learning about Gender Pronouns on Multicultural Children’s Book Day #ReadYourWorld – readilearn

interview with Brooke Graham author of Go Away, Worry Monster

Go Away, Worry Monster! — Interview with Brooke Graham #readilearn

It is not uncommon for children to experience some level of anxiety or worry when beginning a new school year or starting at a new school. Many adults experience it too when faced with a new situation. It is important to keep the worries in perspective to avoid having them grow uncontrollably until they take on monster proportions.

Today I am interviewing Brooke Graham, author of a beautiful new picture book called Go Away, Worry Monster! that is not only a tool for discussing these worries with children but also shares strategies they can use independently to chase those worry monsters away.

About the author Brooke Graham

Brooke Graham author of Go Away Worry Monster

Brooke Graham is a children’s author, primary school teacher and mother. She enjoys writing emotive stories that help children cope with life’s ups and downs. Brooke is a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), The Australian Society of Authors, and Write Links, a Brisbane based writers’ group. Brooke teaches in primary schools part-time. She also does author visits in schools and kindergartens. In her spare time Brooke enjoys reading, bike riding, bush walking and spending time with family and friends.

About the book Go Away, Worry Monster!

Go Away Worry Monster, a picture book by Brooke Graham

Worry Monster loves ‘helping’ Archie worry, especially on the night before he starts at a new school. Archie feels so anxious that his head hurts, his tummy flutters and his heart pounds. He soon realizes that the only way to feel better is to make Worry Monster go away. He does his belly breaths and challenges his inner fears by facing facts, and Worry Monster is forced to leave Archie alone! Go Away, Worry Monster! gives children useful strategies to cope with their anxieties and stress, showing them how to make their own Worry Monsters leave, even in highly stressful times.

What I like about Go Away, Worry Monster!

Continue reading: Go Away, Worry Monster – Interview with Brooke Graham – readilearn

preparing for a new school year lower primary

And so it begins — a New School Year – #readilearn

Teachers around Australia are already thinking about how they will organise their classrooms to maximise learning when the new school year begins at the end of January. They are as excited as the children with hopes and expectations of a successful and enjoyable school year.

To ensure a rewarding year, it is important to begin with a clear idea of what you want to achieve and the steps that will contribute to success. It is useful to keep in mind that one of the most significant contributors to children’s learning is the classroom environment, especially the relationship with the teacher. A supportive classroom environment that welcomes students and their families is essential so that children have a sense both of belonging and ownership.

Rita Pierson makes this quite clear in her TED Talk Every kid needs a champion.

Here at readilearn, our focus is on supporting teachers with lessons that are ready for them to teach rather than on worksheets for children to complete. We recognise the beneficial role of discussions that involve both teachers and students sharing ideas. We also assist teachers to establish a welcoming and supportive classroom environment.

Establish a welcoming environment

getting ready for the first day of school

Continue reading: And so it begins — a New School Year – readilearn

A Butterfly Promise #flashfiction

A Butterfly Promise #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the contrasting prompts butterfly and stones. The two can be used in any way in your story. Go where the prompt leads!

Charli is a collector of stones and I love butterflies. I don’t collect them, but I welcome them into my garden, and one of my favourite things of the year while teaching was having a butterfly house in the classroom.

We would acquire some butterfly eggs or just-hatched caterpillars, watch them grow and pupate, wait while they metamorphosed, and gaze in wonder as they emerged and prepared for flight.

The children and I enjoyed the experience so much, I gave my granddaughter a butterfly house for her birthday one year and re-filled it for her on successive years. It was enjoyed by all the family.

I have written about our classroom butterfly experience many times, both here and at readilearn where minibeasts (including butterflies) are star attractions. Some of those posts include:

I Spy Butterflies

Classroom Minibeasts

Who’s on the Move? (includes FF but not butterfly-related)

Bug Me, Please (includes FF but not butterfly-related)

Learning about minibeasts at home or at school

I have also written other butterfly-themed flash fiction in response to Charli’s previous prompts, including:

First Flight

Once upon a time … the power of story

Which brings me to this week’s story linking butterflies and stones. I hope you enjoy it.

A Butterfly Promise

Jack scrambled over the rocks to their favourite place for discussing the wonders of the universe and the meaning of life. And death. He took Grandma’s special stone from his pocket, turned it this way and that in the sunlight, and admired its iridescence. ‘Like butterfly wings. Like life.’ Grandma said she’d come back as a butterfly, if she could.

‘You shouldn’t have left me, Grandma!’ Jack didn’t try to stop his tears. He blinked when a beautiful butterfly alighted on the stone, tickled his nose and circled his head before fluttering away. ‘Grandma!’ called Jack. ‘You came back!’

Thank you blog post

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

We're All in This Together, a picture book by Skye Hughes

We’re All in This Together — a Picture Book by Skye Hughes #readilearn

The refrain ‘We’re all in this together’ echoed around the world in 2020 as we came to grips with the changes that living with a pandemic brought. Teaching online and children learning at home required major adjustments to programs and how they were delivered. Many started talking of the ‘new normal’ while most hoped that 2021 would bring a return to the old familiar ‘normal’. While it may eventually, it is still too soon to get overly comfortable.

Throughout 2020, many were finding creative ways of dealing with the restrictions, lockdowns and changing expectations. Others were using their creativity to help others cope. One of these creatives is Skye Hughes whose beautiful picture book We’re All in This Together illustrates how the changes were shared by many and provides opportunities for discussions between teachers, parents and children that help reduce anxieties and foster empathy.

About Skye Hughes

Skye Hughes was born in Adelaide but spent much of her childhood travelling around Australia in a caravan with her three younger siblings and parents. She is a school teacher, youth program facilitator and big fan of Nutella donuts. Skye currently lives in Melbourne and when she isn’t writing children’s books, looking after her house plants or teaching young people, you will find her travelling the globe and connecting with people from all walks of life. It is these connections that inspire her to keep growing, learning and creating beautiful memories.

About the picture book We’re All in this Together

School friends – Kiana, Amin, Roshan, Casey, Ming, and Tyler all have one thing in common — they can’t go to school. The world changed very quickly and now they have to stay home to keep themselves and their families and friends safe. They discover that even apart, they can find new and fun ways to be together.
At a time when the world looks a little different, this encouraging story promises young readers an opportunity to reflect on their own experience of this unique moment in history while promoting resilience and unity.

The interview

Continue reading: We’re All in This Together — a Picture Book by Skye Hughes — readilearn