Category Archives: Literacy education

teaching and learning with nursery rhymes

Teaching and learning with nursery rhymes – reblogged from readilearn

Nursery rhymes are often a child’s first introduction to our literary heritage. Parents sing nursery rhyme lullabies to soothe their babies to sleep and play nursery rhyme games to entertain them in their waking hours. All the while, children are learning the rhythms and tones of our language, developing vocabulary, ideas and imagination. When children learn the repetitive patterns of nursery rhymes, they are also developing their memories.

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.”

While I am aware that others question the existence of research to back up that statement, I think most teachers would agree that children who have been spoken to, sung to (including nursery rhymes) and read to before school will find literacy learning much easier in our classrooms. Success with literacy learning often correlates with success later in life.

Already on the readilearn website, there are resources to support your literacy teaching using the nursery rhymes Humpty Dumpty and Little Miss Muffet. More are in development. While some nursery rhymes may be considered to have questionable origins, those origins have no place when teaching them to children. The benefits flow from having fun with the rhythms and rhymes of language.

Teaching literacy skills & developing creative thinking with Humpty Dumpty

The Humpty Dumpty suite of resources includes:

Continue reading: Teaching and learning with nursery rhymes – readilearn

appreciating and exploring poetry in lower primary classrooms

Appreciating and exploring poetry in lower primary classrooms – reblogged from readilearn

Poetry is a wonderful tool for learning language. When children listen to or recite poetry, they are learning the rhythms and sounds of language, exploring ideas and how to express them, expanding vocabularies, deepening understanding in nuances of meaning, and having fun with thoughts and their expression.

Children are exposed to rhythm and rhyme from their earliest days through nursery rhymes, chants and songs as well as the text of picture books. It is important for children to have opportunities for appreciating and exploring poetry into and throughout their school years. The Australian Curriculum places poetry firmly into the literature strand of English teaching each year. But it is not necessary to relegate poetry just to a poetry unit of work when stipulated by the curriculum. Poetry, rhymes, chants and songs can be easily incorporated into the daily class program.

Michael Rosen, who you may know as the author of Going on a Bear Hunt and who I previously introduced to you in this post, shares some recommendations for teaching poetry on his blog. Although the suggestions were written for a year one teacher, I think the suggestions could be extended out to other years. Following his recommendations would more than cover the expectations of the Australian Curriculum, and what a wonderful way to turn children (and yourself) onto poetry.

I’m only sharing a few of his recommendations here. Please visit his website to read the others.

Michael Rosen’s suggestions for teaching poetry

  • Get as many poetry books into your classroom as possible. Encourage the children in pairs to browse, choose and read.
  • Read poems to them every day, use vids of poets (check out Michael Rosen’s YouTube channel) , use national poetry archive. Writing poems with no poems in your head is too big an ask. Fill their heads with ‘What poetry can do’ ie loads of poems.

Continue reading: Appreciating and exploring poetry in lower primary classrooms – readilearn

empowerment through reading instruction

Empowerment through reading instruction – reblogged from readilearn

The importance of reading to children every day is never far from my mind. It comes from a passion for all things literacy as well as the knowledge that reading means empowerment. Reading is the key that unlocks so much that is meaningful in today’s world.

Whether at home or in the classroom, children need to listen to stories read aloud to them every day. It should be non-negotiable and prioritised. I would also add time for independent reading of self-selected material to that non-negotiable list and, in the classroom, time for independent writing on self-chosen topics.

Listening to stories benefits children in many ways; including, but not limited to:

  • Sheer enjoyment
  • Connection with others and other ideas which leads to understanding, respect and empathy
  • Exposure to language and vocabulary which in turns develops language and vocabulary
  • Positive feelings for books as a source of pleasure and information and a stimulus for imagination and creativity
  • A model of fluent and expressive reading behaviour that can be aspired to and emulate
  • A desire to read for oneself.

Keeping in mind that reading aloud to children and making time for their independent reading are non-negotiable and occur in the classroom every day, children also require purposeful instruction in the process of reading.

While some children appear to learn easily and without effort before starting school, as my own two children did, others struggle to understand the marks on the page. Most children fall somewhere on a continuum between, benefitting from instruction along the way.

The readilearn collection of teaching resources for teachers of the first three years of school includes many to support your teaching of reading. Many resources are free, others are available for no more than a few dollars, or you can access all the resources for one low annual subscription of just A$25. (That’s about £13, €15, US$17 or CAN$22) I’m sure you’ll agree that’s great value.

Browse resources now

readilearn supports teachers teaching reading

Reading aloud

As part of our support for reading aloud, on the readilearn blog we regularly conduct interviews with authors and illustrators about their new books. Many of these interviews are available to download free from the Author and Illustrator Spotlight resources.  We also publish free lists of books on different topics for you to download; for example,

multicultural picture book

Continue reading: Empowerment through reading instruction – readilearn

learning is fun with Halloween-themed activities

Learning with Halloween fun – readilearn

Halloween is just around the corner and many of us wonder how we can have fun with a Halloween theme while ensuring learning is not forgotten in repetitious and meaningless worksheets.

readilearn teaching resources support teachers in keeping the learning alive while the children are having fun with Halloween-themed lessons.

trick or treat printable game for Halloween

The printable Trick or Treat Game for Halloween is a fun board game for two or more players of all ages, suitable for use in maths and literacy groups, with buddies or in family groups. It combines reading, mathematics, activity, and loads of fun and laughter.

Everything required to play the game is included in the zip folder. All you’ll need to add is a dice and a sense of fun. There are treats to collect and instructions to follow. Try not to be scared by those witches and ghosts and, most of all, look out for your friends.

The kit also includes additional ideas for lessons in maths and writing.

Each of the game components are also available individually to use in other ways if you wish.

Continue reading: Learning with Halloween fun – readilearn

Library For All - a Force for Equality through Literacy

Library For All — a Force for Equality through Literacy – readilearn

What is 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.

Who can access Library For All?

Library For All found that, even in “communities where history, poverty or remoteness are everyday barriers to accessing knowledge”, many children have access to mobile phones, e-tablets and readers. Recognising this, the digital library was created which allows children anywhere to freely access reading material through the app, available in the Google Play Store on any Android device.

Teachers can also use the app with children in their classrooms. What a great way of accessing a range of culturally diverse books from simple beginning stories to chapter books.

In addition to their availability on locally owned smart phones and tablets, through the support of development organisations around the world, the books are available to many schools and communities in developing countries and remote areas through the Spark Digital Library Kits.

Continue reading: Library For All — a Force for Equality through Literacy – readilearn

The Student Blogging Challenge - How you can be involved

The Student Blogging Challenge — How you can be involved – readilearn

The Student Blogging Challenge is a project that encourages students around the world to create a blog and experience the benefits of publishing online including:

  • developing digital writing skills
  • becoming aware of the possibilities and responsibilities of digital citizenship
  • writing for and developing an authentic audience
  • making connections with others around the world.

Founded in 2008 by Sue Wyatt, who I had the pleasure of meeting up with in Hobart a few years ago, the challenge has been held twice a year since then in March and October. The next Challenge, hosted by Kathleen Morris and Sue Waters, begins on 6 October and runs for eight weeks. A different blogging task is to be completed each week. Students can join in as part of a class group or individually. Participation is free.

Who can be involved?

The challenge is open to students from K–12 around the world. However, organisers suggest that it is most suited to students from 8–16 years.

There are three ways to participate:

As a teacher, you can register your class.

Students can register individually.

As an adult, you can register as a commenter on the student blogs.

I joined in as a commenter for the first time in the March Challenge this year and have this lovely certificate to prove it.

Continue reading: The Student Blogging Challenge — How you can be involved – readilearn

School Days Reminiscences -- Some Data

School Days Reminiscences — Some Data

School days and their impact on our lives has been a major topic of discussion here over the past six months when authors and bloggers have shared their reminiscences. (You can catch up on any reminiscences you missed here.)With no one else quite ready to share just yet, I thought it would be interesting to have a look over some aspects of the reviews.

The first questions I asked were related to where schools had been attended and whether the schools were government, private or independent.

Where did the interviewees attend school?

A total of twelve countries were listed:

  • USA (8)
  • England (7)
  • Canada (3)
  • South Africa (3)
  • India (1)
  • Wales (1)
  • Australia (1)
  • Malaysia (1)
  • Singapore (1)
  • New Zealand (1)
  • Malta (1)
  • Zimbabwe (1)
  • And the British Colony of Hong Kong (1)

Three interviewees attended schools in two or more countries (two attended in three).

This gives us quite an international flavour to the interviews.

Were the schools government, private or independent?

This one is a little more difficult to summarise as the systems seem to be classed differently from country to country. However, the majority of interviewees appear to have attended government schools, with a smattering attending private or independent schools, and some a mixture of both.

Was there an overall favourite subject?

graph - what was your favourite subject

Discussions on the posts indicated that there might have been a trend towards a liking for English and a dislike of physical education and maths. I think the trend away from PE and maths especially may have emerged through the discussions themselves, as when I went back through the posts, it wasn’t so obvious. However, I didn’t specifically ask which subject was most disliked.

English with its related subjects like reading and writing was definitely the overall favourite with eleven listing it as such.

The list of favourites includes:

  • English (11)
  • History (4)
  • Music (2)
  • Geography (2)
  • Social Studies (2)
  • French (1)
  • PE (1)
  • Art (1)
  • Humanities (1)
  • Maths (1)
  • Drama (1)

(Note: If people listed more than one, I may have included it.)

What aspect of school was most disliked?

As I didn’t ask the question about subjects that were disliked, but what was most disliked about school, I received a variety of responses.

PE did figure in the responses of six respondents, but the social aspect of fitting in and making friends, including when changing schools was listed by seven. Subjects such as maths, physics, geography, biology and geometry rated only one mention each. Other dislikes included disruption due to war, rules, long distances to and from school, and being picked out to answer questions. Others said that there was nothing they had disliked about school.

It is interesting that the social aspect of school and physical education ranked so highly. I wonder how much of the dislike for physical education was related to the social aspect of it.

Thank you blog post

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