Category Archives: Literacy 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.

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.

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

Christmas classroom activities that focus on learning

Christmas classroom activities that focus on learning – Readilearn

As Christmas draws near, keeping children focussed on their lessons can be a challenge for teachers. But it’s not impossible. It is not necessary to fill every moment with Christmas themed activities, but a few interspersed throughout the day can be motivating and lift everyone’s spirits. Activities that promote children’s learning should always take precedence over time fillers.

To assist teachers keep the focus on learning while children would rather be thinking of Christmas and holidays, I have prepared a range of lessons and suggestions for use in different subject areas. Many of the lessons and suggestions integrate learning across curriculum areas. All readilearn Christmas themed activities can be found under the Cultural Studies tab in the subcategory Christmas.

Focus on the children

A great place to start is always with the children and their family’s traditions.

Begin with a survey to find out which children in the class do and do not celebrate Christmas. While you will already have an idea of which children do, it can be an interesting way to begin the discussion of different cultural traditions celebrated by children in your class.

The main ingredient in any of these discussions should always be respect, and it is important to find ways of making classroom activities inclusive.

How many school days until Christmas?

Advent Calendars that count down the twenty-five December days until Christmas are great for families to use in the home but not so suitable for school. What about counting down the school days until Christmas? Twenty-five school days would mean starting at least five weeks before school finishes, which might be a bit soon, so choose another number which suits your program. Fifteen (three weeks) could be a good number. (Note: If, for inclusivity, you didn’t wish to count down to Christmas, you could count down to the holidays.)

A countdown calendar

Schedule opportunities for the children to present information about their family traditions as part of the countdown.

Continue reading: Christmas classroom activities that focus on learning – Readilearn

reading the Iron Man by Ted Hughes to spark imagination, inspire writing and motivate making

Reading the Iron Man to spark imagination, inspire writing and motivate making – Readilearn

One of my favourite read-aloud books is The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. The influence of poetry is obvious in this compelling modern fairy tale that begins as it might end.

When I introduce this book to children, I conceal it so they cannot see from which part of it I am reading. I tell them the title of the book and ask them to tell me whether I am reading from the beginning, the middle or the end of the book.

I then read, mostly without interruption though I do explain that ‘brink’ is the very edge, the first two pages that describe the Iron Man and how he stepped off the top of a cliff into nothingness and crashed into pieces on the rocks below.

The children listen in awe, fascinated by the size of the Iron Man, incredulous that he would step off the cliff, mesmerised by the telling of each part breaking off and crashing, bumping, clanging to lie scattered on the rocky beach.

They invariably tell me it is the end of the story. How could it be otherwise? When I tell them it is just the beginning, they are amazed and excitedly discuss how the story might continue. This could lead to writing if the children are keen, but there are other opportunities further into the story.

When this initial discussion has run its course, I go back to the beginning and read it again, stopping to encourage further discussion and to spark the children’s imaginations.

allow their imaginations to contemplate possibilities

Continue reading: Reading the Iron Man to spark imagination, inspire writing and motivate making – Readilearn

Halloween mathematics lessons for the interactive whiteboard

readilearn: Engaging mathematics learning with Halloween themed resources

In just a couple of weeks, people in many parts of the world will be celebrating Halloween. Even in Australia, where the festival has only recently begun to take hold, merchandise now fills our (mainly discount) stores, and children look forward to a night of fun, knocking on doors and collecting treats from family and friends.

The festival dates back two thousand years to its origins in what is now Ireland, England and France. Irish immigrants took the festival to America in the 1800s. Halloween arrived in Australia with immigrants and through its portrayal in movies and on television. Always looking for an excuse to party, Australians are ready to join in.

Originally, the festival celebrated the end of summer harvests and marked the beginning of the long dark northern winters. The festivities have evolved over the centuries with changes to focus and traditions.

I have always thought that adding a bit of fun to the school day helps the learning go down. If the children are going to be distracted by thoughts of their Halloween costumes and what booty they might score in an evening of trick or treating, why not harness those distractions and channel them into learning?

To combine fun with learning, this week I have uploaded three new interactive Halloween themed maths resources for use on the interactive whiteboard. The resources help to develop number concepts up to ten and are available to subscribers. As do other readilearn resources, they acknowledge that it is the richness of discussion occurring between teacher and children that helps to consolidate children’s learning.

Continue reading: readilearn: Engaging mathematics learning with Halloween themed resources

libraries books reading, importance of school libraries

readilearn: Libraries, books and reading = infinite worlds to explore

What is your fondest memory of a library?

Books, books, and more books. More books than I could ever read.

Books to inform, books to entertain, books to amuse, books to escape the everyday world.

Libraries, books and reading

As a child, I borrowed from the school library and the public library. I remember walking the 3.7 kilometres (2 ¼ miles in those pre-metric days of my childhood) to the public library most Saturdays and coming home with an armload of books.

As a parent, I read to and with my children many times a day —morning, afternoon and evening. Books were always given as gifts, and we had shelves filled with books we owned, but these were always supplemented with books borrowed from the library. We could never have too many books.

As a teacher, I shared my love of reading with the students, making the most of every opportunity to read to them, regardless of whether it be reading time, maths time, science time or whatever time.

Many of the children I taught had not had early opportunities to fall in love with books. I believed (believe) it is imperative to foster a love of reading and learning to empower children, soon-to-be-adults, in making their own educated and informed life choices. The families of many of these children could not afford to purchase books, but with access to school and public libraries, there was never a reason for them to be without books to read.

Nowadays, libraries are not just books, and the old library cards have been replaced with digital catalogues and borrowing systems. Not only is there more to know, but there are also more ways for information to be stored and shared, and more ways to learn.

The role of teacher librarians

 

Continue reading: readilearn: Libraries, books and reading = infinite worlds to explore