Category Archives: Lower Primary education

Understanding Autism Spectrum and ADHD with Kathy Hoopmann

Cats and Dogs — Understanding Autism Spectrum and ADHD with Kathy Hoopmann – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Kathy Hoopmann and her delightfully humorous and sensitive books that help to explain how it feels to be on the autism spectrum or to have ADHD — All Cats are on the Autism Spectrum and All Dogs have ADHD.

These books are perfect for use in both the home and classroom settings. Children and adults on the spectrum or diagnosed with ADHD will find themselves in the books, and others will recognise and develop understanding and empathy for their fellows who may travel the world on a slightly different path.

All Cats are on the Autism Spectrum and All Dogs have ADHD are updated versions of Kathy’s previously published and successful books All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome and All Dogs Have ADHD. Kathy explains her reasons for updating them.

“I first published All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome in 2006 and All Dogs Have ADHD in 2009.  Fast forward 11 and 14 years and although both books were still selling well, the layouts were dated and some of the text needed tweaking to represent current views and terminology. The biggest criticism I had was that they were written with male pronouns

And, as many girls have ASD and ADHD, they also wanted to see themselves on the page. With these things in mind, I took the opportunity to freshen up the entire books and revitalized them with all new images as well.

They are definitely beautiful books and delightful to look at, filled from cover to cover with cute cat and dog images.  However, the books are more than just that. Kathy shines a positive light on the sometimes-quirky behaviours that are endearing in pets and helps us recognise the beauty and joy we can discover in diversity. She encourages us to accept ourselves and others just as we are.

A recommendation by Haley Moss

The updated version of All Cats are on the Autism Spectrum has a beautiful foreword written by Haley Moss, Esq., an autistic attorney, author, artist and advocate. Haley writes:

“Me-wow! I was 13 years old when my mom brought All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome home from an autism conference. You’d expect teenagers to think they’re too old for picture books when they so desperately want to be seen as adults, but nope

Continue reading: Cats and Dogs — Understanding Autism Spectrum and ADHD with Kathy Hoopmann – readilearn

Christmas lessons and activities for P-2

Christmas Lessons and Activities for P–2 – #readilearn

December is packed with excitement for children in Australia. It marks the end of the school year and the beginning of the long summer, often called ‘Christmas’, holidays and, of course, Christmas itself.

Once final assessments for the year are done, it can be difficult keeping children focused on learning when their thoughts are turning to imminent adventures.

However, it needn’t be so, and here at readilearn we have a variety of lessons that keep the children learning while having some Christmas fun.

For me, the real meaning of Christmas is being kind and generous in spirit. But of course, those values are not confined to Christmas and hopefully children have been developing their friendship skills and ability to get along throughout the year. Maybe you’ve used some of the readilearn friendship skills lessons to support their development.

Who celebrates Christmas?

Before you dive into Christmas activities, a survey will help you 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. A generosity of spirit develops when we see that what we share is more important than the ways in which we differ. Learning about each other is an important way of developing understanding.

Count down the school days 

Continue reading: Christmas Lessons and Activities for P–2 – 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

meet Jonathan Cormur and the Dorktales storytime podcast

Meet Jonathan Cormur and the Dorktales Storytime Podcast – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to a new fun story time podcast I have just discovered. I’m sure you will love these fun, clever podcasts as much as I do. I gave this podcast a 5-star rating and recommend it for both classroom and home use.

Dorktales Storytime Podcast is great for the whole family to listen to together on family story night, on car trips or anytime. It is perfect in the classroom to promote discussion of stories, particularly when studying fairy tales and fractured fairy tales, stimulate imagination for writing story innovations and pure enjoyment.

Note: the information below was provided by Becky Flansburg as part of the Dorktales promotion, of which I’m delighted to be a part.

Anything that promotes a love of story, as this podcast does, gets my tick of approval. I have to tell you that I have listened to and thoroughly enjoyed all the episodes that are currently available and can’t wait for more.

About Jonathan Cormur

Continue reading: Meet Jonathan Cormur and the Dorktales Storytime Podcast – 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

November days to celebrate in the classroom

Special Days and Events for Classroom Celebrations — November – #readilearn

It’s November already and we’re starting the countdown to the end of the year, but there are many more things to celebrate before we welcome in the new year.

The month starts off in a wonderful way by celebrating reading with Australia Reads from 1 – 12 November. I don’t think there can ever be too many days to celebrate reading, literacy and literature.

The Australia Reads Kids digital event on Monday 9 November at 10.30 am is free for all Australian schools. For other events, including interviews with authors and digital story readings, check out this list. Events most days. The site also has some suggestions of great books for children at different year levels.

The week culminates on 12 November with the Reading Hour, when everyone is asked to drop everything and read! What a great excuse to spend more time reading and sharing the love of literature. You can read to yourself or read to the children.

You can join up at the Australia Reads website to take the pledge too (and even make your own logo, as I did):

“I will read for an hour on Thursday 12 November.
I will read books in any shape, form or size.
I will read, whether with bumps, letters, pictures, sound.
I will read to myself or someone else.”

Outdoor Classroom Day on 5 November is a perfect time for taking children outdoors to learn and explore. The day is “a global campaign to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play.” This year’s theme is Love the Outdoors.

Continue reading: Special Days and Events for Classroom Celebrations — November – readilearn

Elizabeth Cummings discusses the Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World

Elizabeth Cummings discusses The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World – #readilearn

Today we are talking with Elizabeth Cummings about The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World from the Verityville series. This interview is part of a Books on Tour promotion.

I previously introduced you to Elizabeth when I interviewed her about her heart-warming picture book The Forever Kid.

About Elizabeth Cummings

Elizabeth Mary Cummings was born in Manchester, educated in Scotland and has lived in Australia and New Zealand for many years. Starting her professional life as a primary school teacher, Elizabeth’s teaching career has taken her into many different roles, including teaching in both the public and independent sectors, working with refuges, special needs and foreign language teaching. When she moved to Australia in 2008 Elizabeth developed and ran a successful language business before releasing her first picture book in 2015 (The Disappearing Sister- a sibling’s account of anorexia nervosa). Her stories often take a child’s perspective to explain the world and reflect on important life experiences including themes of resilience, grief, equality, the natural environment, kindness, empowerment, anti-bullying and mental health. Elizabeth set up her independent publishing company in 2015 and is also published by Big Sky Publishing.

About the Verityville series

Have you wondered about what other people do? The ordinary, everyday people – the people that make our lives the way they are, those who help us, care for us, look after our town and do the little things that make a difference to our lives. Have you ever caught a little glimpse of their little routines or the daily habits? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be them?

In Verityville there are many amazing folk, all going about their daily business, making the town what it is. Their work and their efforts make Verityville a marvellous place to be, full of wonder, friendship and adventure!

Come take a trip to Verityville and meet some of the wonderful people who live and work there!

Little tales for little folk about real life in a veritably fabulous place…Verityville.

About The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World

Continue reading: Elizabeth Cummings discusses The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World – readilearn

Creating a positive future with Ethicool books

Creating a Positive Future with Ethicool Books – #readilearn

Today I am delighted to introduce you to a new publishing company Ethicool Books.

When I first heard about Ethicool Books, I was intrigued by the name and the play on words. When I delved a little further into their website, I was delighted to find what they were aiming to do.

The statement on their homepage says,

“Hi! we’re Ethicool. We publish remarkable children’s books about the world’s big issues, encouraging kids to make a positive change.”

I couldn’t find anything to argue with there. Or anywhere, in fact.

About Ethicool Books

Ethicool Books aims to encourage parents to engage children in discussions about issues such as climate change, ocean pollution, poverty and gender equality through stories told in their beautiful picture books.

© Stuart French and Teigan Margetts

As parents themselves, Stuart French and Teigan Margetts, the founders of Ethicool Books, realised the powerful role that parents have in educating their children for a positive future.

“Our little ones have the opportunity to create a different world, right from the ground up. The future is in their hands and if we give them the gift of knowledge and the inspiration to take action, they can create the world of their dreams.”

Ethicool Books.

But Ethicool Books are not only words. They are action also. They have partnered with 1% for the Planet, donating 1% of all book sales to that organisation. They are also eco-conscious and use soy inks in the printing process. You can read a little more about that here.

The Interview

Today, I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Stuart French, co-founder of Ethicool Books and author of the best-selling picture book Remembering Mother Nature.

Continue reading: Creating a Positive Future with Ethicool Books – readilearn

Develop your Kindness Superpower with Super Nicholas

Develop your Kindness Superpower with Super Nicholas by Michelle Worthington

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Michelle Worthington, Australian author with many successful picture books to her credit.

I previously introduced you to some of Michelle’s work when I interviewed Katrin Dreiling, illustrator of Michelle’s fun story The World’s Worst Pirate.

Today we are discussing her beautiful picture book Super Nicholas which presents alternate abilities in a compassionate way that promotes kindness.

About Michelle Worthington

© Michelle Worthington

Michelle Worthington is an award-winning children’s author and international guest speaker on the power of storytelling. A full-time fiction writer based in Brisbane, Michelle credits her three sons for giving her an endless source of inspiration, as well as her wrinkles.
Michelle is dedicated to encouraging a strong love of reading and writing in young children and enjoys working with charities that support the vision of empowering youth through education. As a mentor and editor, she helps aspiring authors find pathways to publication and enjoys working as part of a team in projects that are purposeful, innovative and inspirational.

About Super Nicholas

When a little boy with alternate abilities is born into a family of super heroes, it can be tough to make everyone happy. Nicholas has a heart as big as the sun and he can shine just as bright, even without super strength, super speed or being able to fly. His superpower is kindness and when it comes time to save the day, it’s the most powerful of them all.

What I like about Super Nicholas

Promoting kindness is one of our key values here at readilearn  and many resources can be found in our collection focusing on friendship skills.

One of the things I really appreciate about Super Nicholas is that it challenges the superhero stereotype and suggests to children that showing kindness to others can be the most effective superpower.

It also shows the importance of accepting and appreciating differences in others, as well as ourselves. Stories like this have an important place in every home, school and library collection and I am happy to recommend Super Nicholas to you. Most of us feel a little different from those around us at times and all of us will find something to love in Super Nicholas.

The Interview

Michelle, you are a prolific and accomplished children’s author. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I have always made up stories in my head but I wasn’t very good at writing them down. I am not very good at spelling and I was too scared to make a mistake, so I didn’t write any of them down until I was in Grade 5. My Grade 5 teacher encouraged me to start with writing poetry to get my confidence up and I started writing from then and have never stopped!

Continue reading: Develop your Kindness Superpower with Super Nicholas by Michelle Worthington – readilearn

special days and events for classroom celebrations - October

Special Days and Events for Classroom Celebrations — October – #readilearn

Another month down. While I’m not wishing time away (I think most of us would always like more of that), I’m hoping that, as we step into this last quarter of 2020, we are stepping closer to a world free of restrictions, lockdowns and Covid-19. I’m sure you are all with me on that.

October begins in a wonderful way with World Smile Day on the first Friday in October — this year, 2 October. The day is a great reminder to spread smiles and share kindness with others. One of the best ways to spread smiles is by having an open heart and being friendly towards others.

Here at readilearn, we have many resources you can use to teach your children friendship skills and encourage them to get along with each other. Resources include:

Busy Bees ABC of friendship

Friendship superpower posters

Continue reading: Special Days and Events for Classroom Celebrations — October – readilearn