Category Archives: Literacy education

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

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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Innovating on the nursery rhyme Row, Row, Row Your Boat – #readilearn

Innovating on familiar nursery rhymes and songs is an easy and fun way to encourage children to think creatively, to develop their writing skills and extend their vocabularies. There are many ways in which Row, Row, Row Your Boat can be used for these purposes. In this post, I share just some of them.

Rhyming words

stream/dream

What other words rhyme with stream and dream? List them.

beam, cream, gleam, meme, ream, seem, team

row

What other words rhyme with row? List them.

bow, blow, crow, dough, flow, go, hoe, Joe, know, low, mow, so, slow, show, tow, though, woe

Synonyms and alternatives

Substitute synonyms or other words to sing or write new versions.

Continue reading: Innovating on the nursery rhyme Row, Row, Row Your Boat – 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

teaching with nursery rhymes

The Cow Jumped Over the Moon — Really? – #readilearn

Nursery rhymes are fun, especially nonsense nursery rhymes like Hey Diddle, Diddle.

Benefits of Nursery Rhymes

But nursery rhymes are not just fun. They are often a child’s first introduction to our literary heritage and have many benefits for young children.

  • They help children learn the sounds and rhythms of the language.
  • They are short and easy to remember so help to develop memory.
  • They introduce children to rhyme and alliteration and help to develop phonemic awareness which is important to the development of skills in reading and writing.
  • They encourage a joy in language and inspire a playfulness that contributes to further language learning.

Australian author Mem Fox is often quoted as saying that

“Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually among the best readers by the time they’re eight.”

We know that success with literacy learning often correlates with success later in life. Most early childhood teachers agree that children who have been spoken to, sung to (including nursery rhymes) and read to before school find literacy learning much easier in our classrooms. However, the value of nursery rhymes doesn’t end when children begin school. They can be the focus of learning throughout school.

World Nursery Rhyme Week

If you are not already aware of it, you may wish to check out World Nursery Rhyme Week  that begins next week on 16 November and continues until 20 November. The purpose of World Nursery Rhyme Week is to promote the importance of nursery rhymes in early education. Follow the link to find lots of free resources to join in the worldwide celebration of nursery rhymes.

Learning with Hey Diddle, Diddle

Let’s begin with ten lesson ideas based upon the nonsense nursery rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle. I’m sure you are familiar with the rhyme.

Continue reading: The Cow Jumped Over the Moon — Really? – readilearn

bush ballads billabongs and bullfrogs

Bush Ballads, Billabongs and Bullfrogs – #readilearn

A couple of weeks ago, I announced the publication of a new anthology of Bedtime Ballads and Tall Tales from the Australian Bush, Tell ‘Em They’re Dreaming, in which I am delighted to have a ballad of my own included.

The anthology was launched online on Facebook last Sunday 1 November with many of the authors reading their stories in the Share Your Story Facebook Group, which you are welcome to join. You may scroll through the posts and listen to many of the stories there.

My story Once Upon a Billabong tells of a big bully bullfrog who enjoys being mean and doesn’t allow anyone else to live in his billabong. But things don’t always work out the way we plan, and certainly not for the bully bullfrog who is soon looking for a home himself. To find out what happens, listen to me read the story in this video, or perhaps you’d like to read along with me. I hope you enjoy it.

(In case you’re wondering, I bought a frog onesie especially for the launch and still decided to wear it when we had to go online. It doesn’t work as well in the video as I’d hoped. I’m not really trying to hide. 😊)

Continue reading: Bush Ballads, Billabongs and Bullfrogs – readilearn

Combat Boredom with Board Games – #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 benefits of playing board games are the same whether played at home or at school. If you have older children or adults available to support children while they play, board games are an excellent activity for learning in groups across many areas of the curriculum.

One of the best ways to have fun while learning, or to learn while having fun, is by playing board games. Playing games together as a family helps to bond family relationships. Adjustments can be made to suit most numbers and ages and rules can be adapted to suit your purposes. While the main thing is to have fun together, there is a lot of learning going on too.

Social Skills

  • One of the greatest benefits of playing board games is the development of social skills.
  • Some of the social skills children learn include:
  • Getting along and taking turns
  • Playing fair — accept the roll (if dice are used) or draw (if cards are used) for example, and respond accordingly: don’t try to pretend it

Continue reading: Combat Boredom with Board Games – readilearn

Home with the Kids by Norah Colvin

Combat Boredom with Board Games

I was over at the Carrot Ranch last week, discussing the benefits of playing board games as a family with the children. Pop over there to see which games I suggest and add your own favourite board games in the comments.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Home with the Kids by Norah Colvin

One of the best ways to have fun while learning, or to learn while having fun, is by playing board games. Playing games together as a family helps to bond family relationships. Adjustments can be made to suit most numbers and ages and rules can be adapted to suit your purposes. While the main thing is to have fun together, there is a lot of learning going on too.

Social Skills

One of the greatest benefits of playing board games is the development of social skills.

Some of the social skills children learn include:

Getting along and taking turns

Playing fair — accept the roll (if dice are used) or draw (if cards are used) for example, and respond accordingly: don’t try to pretend it wasn’t a “proper” roll (e.g. dropped); or attempt to change the count by skipping or counting twice on a square.

Abiding by rules — all…

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Join Whitney and Britney Chicken Divas for National Simultaneous Storytime

Join Whitney and Britney, the Chicken Divas for National Simultaneous Storytime 2020 – #readilearn

In less than a week, we will be celebrating the 20th National Simulateous Storytime. Are you ready?

National Simultaneous Storytime is an annual event held in Library and Information Week, the last week of May, in Australia and New Zealand. The event is organised by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) with the aim of promoting the value of reading and literacy.

Each year an Australian picture book is chosen to be read simultaneously in libraries, schools, pre-schools, childcare centres, family homes, bookshops and many other places around the nations on either side of the Tasman Sea. Selected books explore age-appropriate themes and address key learning areas of the National Curriculum for Foundation to Year 6.

This year the book is Whitney and Britney Chicken Divas, written and illustrated by Lucinda Gifford.

This book is fun and exciting and will appeal to the adults reading it as much as to the little ones listening to it. While the children may not yet be aware of the original Whitney and Britney divas, their parents and teachers will be.

12 Dancing Princesses

Arthur Rackham / Public domain

When I first began reading the book, I was reminded of the Grimm’s fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses. However, the ending is different and modernised and perhaps more enjoyable for the readers as well as the characters.

Whitney and Britney are gorgeous chooks who live with the elegant Dora von Dooze. While she appreciates their eggs, she’d also enjoy their company. Alas, they sleep throughout the day, which makes Dora a little curious.

Dora determines to discover what they get up to each night while she is asleep; and discover she does. But how does she react and what happens when she finds out?  You will have to read the book to find out what surprises await Dora as well as Whitney and Britney.

Continue reading: Join Whitney and Britney, the Chicken Divas for National Simultaneous Storytime 2020 – readilearn