Category Archives: Education

The Winners! — Environment Award for Children’s Lit, 2021 – #readilearn

The winners of 2021 ENVIRONMENT AWARD FOR CHILDREN’S LITERATURE have been announced!

Recently, I shared with you the shortlist for the Environment Award for Children’s Literature. Today it is my pleasure to let you know the winners in each of the three categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction and Picture Fiction.

Over to the Wilderness Society for their announcement:

The winners for this year’s Environment Award for Children’s Literature have been announced by the Wilderness Society during Nature Book Week, which runs between 6 – 12 September.

Now in its 27th year, the Wilderness Society shortlists the best children’s nature books before a panel of judges crowns a winner for three categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Picture Fiction. The award showcases and celebrates some of the best writers and illustrators working in children’s literature.

Continue reading: The Winners! — Environment Award for Children’s Lit, 2021 – readilearn

The Importance of the Early Years – #readilearn

Note: This article was first written for and published at the Carrot Ranch Literary Community as part of a series supporting parents with children learning at home. The focus of the article is early childhood development and contains information and ideas that teachers and schools may find suitable for sharing with parents.

The early years are crucial to child development and what happens in those years can be used to predict, to some extent, what will happen in that’s child’s future.

I had already intended sharing videos about early childhood development in this post, and still will. But when my sister told me about this Ted Talk by Molly Wright, a pretty amazing 7-year-old, I just knew I had to share it first. She does a great job of summing up the importance of the early years. I’m not going to summarise her talk for you as it’s only 7 ½ minutes long and I’m sure you will enjoy it more coming from Molly.

For me, the only thing she leaves out that I wish she had included is reading stories. Although it’s probably understood, I would like to have heard it mentioned.

Now back to my original plan of sharing two Ted Talks.

(Tip: I understand that watching talks can be time consuming. I find I can often follow them just as well, or better, when I watch them at increased speed. In case you don’t know, to do this is easy. Click on the Settings cogwheel, select Playback speed and choose the speed that suits you. I often try 1.75 first and adjust down if necessary.)

The first talk is Lessons from the longest study on human development by Helen Pearson.

Continue reading: The Importance of the Early Years – readilearn

Flying Pigs #flash fiction

The phrase ‘when pigs fly’ means that something is impossible, it will never happen. The phrase is an adynaton — don’t you love that word? I just learned it — an exaggeration, hyperbole. I seem to think I heard the term many times growing up, though I can’t recall about what in particular. Maybe it was life in general.

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a flight of pigs. It can be farm or fantasy-related. The idea can be a tale, poem or memory. You can use the phrase as an expression. Go where the prompt leads!

The first thing I thought about when reading Charli’s prompt is a hilariously delightful picture book by the fabulous author-illustrator Mo Willems: An Elephant and Piggie Book Today I Will Fly!

If you don’t already know the story, I suggest you acquaint yourself with it with this video. It will only take a couple of minutes.

I remember when I was first introduced to Mo Willem’s work. A colleague came rushing into my room one morning and pushed Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! at me, saying, “You’ve got to read this!’

I would have to say, the book didn’t have instant cover appeal, but she left it with me, and I continued with my preparations for the day. Later, when I sat down to read, I knew this book was something special. I loved it and the children loved it. We read it and read and read it. It had us in stitches. Unsurprisingly, it was a Caldecott Honor book.

After that, we read all the Mo Willems books we could get our hands on. The children brought in those they’d purchased or borrowed from the local library, and I couldn’t resist buying additional titles whenever I saw a new one in a book store I just happened to be passing.

When I visited New York in 2016, I was delighted to find an exhibition of the Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems at a museum not far from my accommodation. I couldn’t go through the exhibition shop without purchasing a book or two or more and also came home with a pigeon and a duckie soft toy. I am, unreservedly, a Mo Willems fan and I have the enthusiasm of my colleague to thank for that. If you would like to find out more, please visit the Mo Willems website.

And Mo is not just for little kids. He is for big kids (like us) and writers too. He has wonderful advice for teachers and writers alike when he discusses creativity, the need to play and the ever-present failure. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Mo, please watch his video on The Joy of Creation. It will inspire you.

In another video on his website, Mo explains how to draw a piggie from the Elephant and Piggie books. The inspiration for my flash came from this video. The flash is also a nod to my favourite ever principal Peter Kidston who not only valued my work as a teacher, he respected it enough to provide me the freedom to teach how I wanted, knowing that the children and their learning was at the centre of all I did. I wrote about Peter in this post.

I hope you enjoy my story.

Flying Pigs

Children’s squeals drew the principal to the window. Ms Irena’s children were running about the yard tossing bits of paper in the air. What were they up to this time?

“We read a book about a flying pig,” explained Ms Irena. “The children decided to make their own pigs and see if they could fly. Then they wanted to see whose would fly the farthest or highest. After, we’ll write stories about our pigs. So, it’s literacy, art, maths and science rolled into one — STEAM!”

The principal smiled. “A flight of pigs. With Irena, even the impossible seems possible.”

Thank you blog post

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

Smorgasbord Children’s Reading Room – New books on the shelves – Let’s Move and Wombat Digs In by Norah Colvin

I am delighted to find that my two little books from the Library For All collection are featured in Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Children’s Reading Room.
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.
Sally is a wonderful supporter of readers and writers everywhere and I am very appreciative of the support she offers me and am grateful to her for sharing news of these books and of Library for All.
Please pop over to Sally’s to read her post. While you are there, if you haven’t already, take some time to explore the richness of what Sally has to offer on her site.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to add two books and their recent reviews to the Reading Room by Norah Colvin published by Library for All

About Let’s Move

How does a fish move? How does a snake move? How do you move? This is a beautifully illustrated book for 4-8 year old readers. Proceeds from this sale benefit nonprofit organisation Library For All, helping children around the world learn to read.

A recent review for the book

Robbie Cheadle5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful book for very young children  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 8 June 2021

This is a delightful little book for teaching very young children about animals and movement. The illustrations are adorable and I particularly liked the snails that slide and the snakes that slither.  

Head over to buy the book: Amazon Australia – Amazon US  – Amazon UK

About Wombat Digs In

Wombat…

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Honouring Eric Carle, Children’s Author and Illustrator – #readilearn

This is a special month for me. It is my birthday month. It is also the birthday month of one of children’s literature’s favourite authors and illustrators, Eric Carle. I had already planned to write a post about Eric Carle’s books during this month of his birth. It seems even more important now since he passed away in May, just a month before his 92nd birthday on 25 June  — such a loss to the kidlit community, but what a legacy he has left.

Eric Carle was a prolific author and illustrator of children’s picture books. He wrote and illustrated more than 70 books. I’m sure everyone knows at least one, and probably several, of Carle’s books. There are possibly several of his books on the shelves of every early childhood and lower primary classroom. Everyone will have their favourites, but I think possibly the best known and the one that comes to mind first for many people is The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

In this post, I list ten of my favourite Eric Carle books and suggest at least one teaching idea for each.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Continue reading: Honouring Eric Carle, Children’s Author and Illustrator – Readilearn

Saddle Up Saloon; Chattin’ With Norah Colvin

I had a great chat with my fellow Ranch-hand, writer and educator, D. Avery over at the Saddle Up Saloon at the Carrot Ranch. We discussed my favourite topics – children, education and writing. Not your usual saloon fare, eh? A bit dry for Kid and Pal too.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

“Hey Kid. Kinda quiet ‘round the Saloon. Ain’tcha got anythin’ lined up?”

“Nope. But as ya kin see, Pal, there’s a few folks in jist relaxin’ an’ chattin’ over a bev’rage a choice.”

“Yeah, I see thet. Look there, is that Norah Colvin?”

“Yep. Says she’s waitin’ on a buddy a hers.”

“Reckon thet buddy is here. Why it’s—”

“D. Avery? Them two’s buddies? What a they have in common?”

“Well, they both know their way ‘roun’ the Ranch.”

“Reckon, but Norah Colvin’s respectable an’ all, an’ our writer’s so…”

“Jist serve ‘em both Kid an’ leave ‘em be.”

******************************************************************************

Hello Norah! I’m so glad we have a place where we can finally hang out together. But it seems Kid is wondering that we’re buddies.

Hello D.

Buddies! I like that. Buddies is not a term commonly used in Australia, so I think this is the first time I’ve ever…

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Writer in Residence

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a new way to office. Has the office changed? Can we return to normal after big changes or time away? Go where the prompt leads!

As a teacher who also loved to write, I used to love inspiring and nurturing a love of writing in my children. The desire equalled my love of reading and of picture books. We wrote together every day (they wrote, and I wrote at the same time). We often wrote collaboratively, authoring stories, songs, and poems together before they wrote their own. They wrote independently and of their own volition, especially in free time. I, and they, would often say, “That would make a good story.” I loved reading and responding to the messages they wrote to me in a daily diary that gave me a window into their lives and the things that were important to them.

To encourage their writing, there was always a great variety of paper, pens and other essential equipment available to them. While I didn’t ever have a desk such as I describe in my flash fiction (it is fiction, you see), I can just imagine how they would have loved it and how they would have imagined themselves at it while writing in the office (writing corner). I hope you can imagine it too.

Writer in Residence

The large old oak writer’s desk with multiple drawers, pigeon holes, an ink well and leather writing mat faced the room.

Upon it, a multitude of cups stocked with pencils, pens and other writing and drawing tools sat ready. The pigeon holes held a magnificence of paper and cardboard, and the drawers essentials like scissors, glue, rulers, lettering guides, clips and stapler. It was a writer’s paradise — perfect for the daily Writer in Residence.

The children loved it. Especially when they were Writer for the day with freedom to organise, reorganise and create to their heart’s content — growing writers.

Thank you blog post

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

#Bookreview: Two delightful children’s books by Norah Colvin

I was absolutely surprised and delighted to find a review of my two picture books that have been published by Library For All on Robbie’s Cheadle’s blog Robbie’s Inspiration. Thank you, Robbie. Please pop over to Robbie’s blog to read her reviews.
But before you go, I’d like to tell you a little about Library For All.
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. The stories are often donated by authors, as were my two, or written in collaboration with local people in the communities they support.
You can find out more on their website Library For All or in a post I wrote about them a few years ago when these books were first published Library For All — A Force for Equality through Literacy.
Now, over to Robbie’s.

Robbie's inspiration

I bought these two delightful books for very young children for my two year old nice. The illustrations are colourful and bright and the stories are adorable.

My review of Wombat Digs In by Norah Colvin

Wombat Digs In by Norah Colvin for Library for All

This is an adorable book for small children about a wombat who is struggling to keep up with some of the other animals including the kangaroos who can bounce, the possums who can climb, and the fruit bats who can fly. Wombat is feeling a little dejected, but when Baby Koala falls out of the tree, Wombat’s own special skill of digging comes to the forefront. This little book is illustrated with simple and bright pictures that small children will love.

My review of Let’s Move by Norah Colvin

Let's Move by Norah Colvin for Library for All

This is a delightful little book for teaching very young children about animals and movement. The illustrations are adorable and I particularly liked the snails…

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Picture Books about the Environment — a selection – #readilearn

Sharing picture books with young children is one of my favourite things. Picture books can fill children’s minds with wonder, curiosity and imagination, and their hearts with love. Picture books lead them gently into the world beyond their own front doors. They allow children to explore the previously unexplored in the comfort and safety of their own familiar surroundings, at home or at school.

In this post, I share some books that will help children develop an interest in and concern for the environment through reading and discussion.

Ethicool Books

A good place to start is with publisher Ethicool Books. I recently interviewed Stuart French, the founder, who explained their goal of engaging children in discussions about issues such as climate change, ocean pollution, poverty and gender equality through stories told in their beautiful picture books. While you can find a full list of their books on their website, these are some of my favourites:

Remembering Mother Nature by Stuart French introduces children to the concept of Mother Nature and encourages them to take an active interest in the environment and help to save the planet.

My Rainforest Classroom by Stuart French introduces children to the beauty of the world’s environments and its inhabitants. It shows how easily the environment can be damaged and urges them to take action to protect it.

Continue reading: Picture Books about the Environment — a selection – Readilearn

Unleashed #Flashfiction

Leashed flash fiction prompt

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story being leashed. Is it literal or metaphorical? Who or what is leashed. How does it set the tone? Go where the prompt leads!

I know the term leashed, and consequently unleased, refers specifically to dogs, and that is how Charli used it. However, I am not particularly familiar with dogs, either leashed or unleashed, so decided for the metaphorical interpretation of being held captive and, conversely, set free.

I usually try to conjure a story about children or education, or possibly an idea that I may be able to work into a publishable picture book manuscript one day. However, I didn’t realise I’d done that this time. Until I had.

I was thinking of slinky toys and the practical joke that uses a (fake) snake springing out of a can. I combined the two ideas, thinking how awesome it would be to release (unleash) a whole lot of slinky toys at the top of some stairs at the same time. When I finished writing, I realised that I’d repeated my thoughts about schooling and education once again. I even wondered if it had a theme similar to The Nightingale by Hans Christian Andersen. Let me know what you think.

Unleashed

It began harmlessly with a mini-slinky party favour in a birthday bag. The sparkles mesmerised Jamie as it tumbled end over end down the driveway or stairs. Soon it became an obsession. Swapping favours at birthday parties, pleading for them in supermarkets, Jamie hoarded them in a can carried everywhere. The obsession progressed from sparkles to numbers as the can filled. Eventually, no more slinkies would fit. As Jamie pressed and squeezed, the recalcitrant can tipped. Slinkies erupted, springing to life. As they danced away, sparkling in the sunlight, Jamie was captivated. Even slinkies need freedom to be themselves.

Thank you blog post

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