Category Archives: Literacy education

What’s an apostrophe for? – #readilearn

It’s not uncommon to see apostrophes used incorrectly, even in professional writing. But apostrophes don’t have to be difficult. They really have just two uses — for contractions and to show possession. Apostrophes aren’t confusing or tricky when the rules are understood.

To support your teaching of this punctuation mark and to encourage writers to get their writing right, I have produced an interactive resource that explains, demonstrates and provides practice in its correct use. It is called Apostrophes Please!

About Apostrophes Please!

Apostrophes Please! is an interactive resource, ready for use on the interactive whiteboard. It consists of enough material for a series of lessons teaching the correct use of apostrophes in both contractions and possessive nouns.

Like other readilearn resources, Apostrophes Please! recognises the value of teacher input and the importance of teacher-student discussion. It is not designed for children to use independently. It relies simply on effective teaching.

The resource provides flexibility for the teacher to choose activities which are relevant to student needs and teaching focus. All lessons and activities encourage explanation, stimulate discussion and provide opportunities for children to practise, explain and demonstrate what they have learned. There are nineteen interactive slides and over thirty slides in all.

Organisation of Apostrophes Please!

Contractions and possessive nouns are introduced separately.

Apostrophes Please! Contractions menu
Apostrophes Please Possession menu

Both sections include three subsections, each consisting of a number of slides:

  • Learn — explanatory teaching slides introduce how apostrophes are used
  • Practice — interactive activities provide opportunities for teachers and students to discuss, demonstrate and explain how apostrophes are used
  • Check — a review of the use of apostrophes provides additional opportunities for practice, discussion and explanation to consolidate learning.

Continue reading: What’s an apostrophe for? – readilearn

Provide a Context and Purpose for Reading with Procedures – #readilearn

This post is a revisit of one of the first posts I published on readilearn almost six years ago in 2016. Since it was first shared, I have added many more procedures to the collection. All procedural texts and activities can be found in the Procedures subsection of Literacy resources.

Why teach procedures?

Reading and following procedures are a part of everyday life. We need to follow a procedure to make a cake, take medicine, repair a bicycle, treat head lice, assemble a DIY bookcase, or install an app on a digital device. The list in inexhaustible.

Sometimes procedures are presented as text, sometimes as illustrations or diagrams, and sometimes as a combination of both. They work best when each step of the sequence is accurately described and illustrated.

However, not all procedural texts are created equal. Sometimes the language may be inappropriate and unclear. Sometimes steps are omitted or sequenced incorrectly. Sometimes diagrams have little resemblance to what is required and confuse, rather than clarify, the process.

Trying to figure out what to do can cause a great deal of frustration in such circumstances.  The more practised we are with following procedures, the more adept we are at interpreting inadequate instructions to achieve a good outcome.

It is never too soon for children to learn to read and follow procedures. The inclusion of procedural texts in a classroom literacy program has many benefits.

Following a procedure provides a context and purpose for reading.  It requires children to interpret instructions through a combination of text and visual representation. It generally implies that children are doing or making something, which engages their interest and encourages participation. It develops an essential real-life skill that is transferrable to a range of situations. The sense of achievement in successfully completing a project is both affirming and empowering and often requires no other feedback.

Procedural texts can be easily incorporated into a class reading program as an independent or group reading activity. An assistant to support, encourage and oversee can be invaluable.

Features of procedural texts

The reading of procedural texts differs from reading fiction or other non-fiction texts.

Continue reading: Provide a Context and Purpose for Reading with Procedures – readilearn

Welcome to our new Children’s Laureate – #readilearn

This week the Australian Children’s Laureate Foundation announced our new Children’s Laureate for 2022-2023, Gabrielle Wang.

Gabrielle Wang is an Australian author and illustrator and our seventh Children’s Laureate. She was born in Melbourne of Chinese heritage. Her father is from Shanghai. Her maternal great grandfather came to Victoria during the Gold Rush.

Gabrielle has been an author for 21 years and has had 20 books published. She mainly writes for 8-12 year olds, but has written for older and younger children too. Her stories are a blend of Chinese and Western culture with a touch of fantasy.

You can find out more about Gabrielle on her own or the Australian Children’s Laureate’s website where Gabrielle has her own page.

Be inspired by Gabrielle’s journey in a video that can be viewed following this link.

The theme for Gabrielle’s term as Children’s Laureate is ‘Imagine a Story’.

She says,

“Your imagination is your most treasured possession and I want to encourage all children to use their imaginations regularly by reading, drawing and writing stories.”

What a wonderful theme.

In her two year ‘Follow the Dragon’ tour of Australia, visiting and conducting workshops in schools, galleries and libraries, Gabrielle has four key messages for children, parents and librarians:

Continue reading: Welcome to our new Children’s Laureate – readilearn

Once Upon a Whoops! — Teaching Ideas – #readilearn

In this post I share some ideas for using Once Upon a Whoops! in the classroom.

Once Upon a Whoops! is a collection of over 40 fractured fairy tales and ridiculous rhymes written and illustrated by Australian authors and illustrators and published by Share Your Story in 2021.

The activities suggested in this post support teaching of the literature strand of the Australian Curriculum F-2. The list not comprehensive as there are too many stories to go into detail for each one. Instead, I provide some general ideas and reference just a few stories for each suggestion.

Of course, in addition to these, the stories can be used as a stimulus in art and technology units if children make props and other objects to support retellings, puppet plays and performances. Many of the stories also provide opportunities for mathematical discussions.

Once Upon a Whoops! is available from Amazon and other online bookstores.

Please note: this book is now also available in Dyslexia font.

Many of the stories have been recorded by the authors. The videos are available on YouTube by following this link.

My stories Silverlocks and the Three Bears and The Three Alpha Pigs are also available on the readilearn YouTube channel. Click on the titles to follow the links.

Once Upon a Whoops! — what’s in the book

Continue reading: Once Upon a Whoops! — Teaching Ideas – readilearn

New Books by Norah Colvin at Library For All – #readilearn

This week I received a surprise in the post that I just had to share with you. I received printed copies of 8 beginner readers, all written by me, that have recently been added to the Library For All collection. One of them has even been translated into Tetum, an Austronesian language spoken on the island of Timor that is an official language of East Timor.

While I knew the books were in production, I didn’t realise they were published, so receiving the package was a wonderful surprise. I am absolutely delighted to be able to support the work of Library For All by donating these stories to them. In addition to these eight, two other titles were published in 2019, and there are an additional four titles recently published for which I have not yet received printed copies.

While the entire collection of digital books is available to download free from Library For All through a free Android app, the purchase of printed books from the collection helps to support the work of Library For All.

I first introduced you to  the wonderful work of  Library For All in the post Library For All — A Force for Equality through Literacy. You are welcome to find out more by heading back to the post or exploring their website.

Briefly, 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.

Printed copies are also available and catalogues of titles can be browsed in the shop.

My titles can be found on my Amazon Author page.

Continue reading: New Books by Norah Colvin at Library For All – readilearn

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