Category Archives: Mathematics

printable board game for learning to follow directions - forwards, backwards, left, right

readilearn: Turtle Island – a game of directions: forwards, backwards, left, right

The ability to give and follow directions according to one’s location is an important skill and one that we frequently use in everyday life. Some of the first directions we use are forwards, backwards, left and right. Often when we teach children these directions, everyone is facing the same way and move in unison.

Understanding that the directions are relative to the way you are facing, and may be different for someone facing another way, can be tricky to develop. Many of us early childhood teachers experience difficulty identifying our own left and right after years of facing children as we teach them their left and right.

I have always considered games to be a great tool for learning. They not only provide a fun way of learning concepts, but they also provide opportunities for children to interact with each other and learn the social skills of getting along at the same time. Games help build positive attitudes toward school, learning and each other. They often incorporate learning across the curriculum and can be used in groups, with buddies or with an adult support person.

This week, I have uploaded a new printable board game which involves children in following directions. For the next few weeks, the game will be available free to everyone, whether a registered readilearn user or not. Why? Because I need your help, please.

Continue reading: readilearn: Turtle Island – a game of directions: forwards, backwards, left, right

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

World Smile Day, World Teachers' Day, World Space Week

readilearn: Smiles unite our world

Today is a day to celebrate. It is both World Teachers’ Day and World Smile Day. What a great combination. In addition, these special days also coincide with World Space Week which is celebrated from 4 – 10 October.

World Teachers’ Day

World Teachers’ Day celebrates the contribution that teachers make to education around the world.

This year’s event marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) in which education is recognised as “a key fundamental right and establishes an entitlement to free compulsory education, ensuring inclusive and equitable access for all children”.

This year’s theme is “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher.”

According to UNESCO, “One of the main challenge [sic] to this right worldwide is the continued shortage of teachers. There are an estimated 264 million children and youth still out of school globally, and according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, the world needs to recruit almost 69 million new teachers to reach the 2030 education goal of universal primary and secondary education. This ‘teacher gap’ is more pronounced among vulnerable populations – girls, children with disabilities, refugee and migrant children, and poor children living in rural or remote areas.”

If you wish to support organisations that provide education for people in need, this list on informED might be a good place to find one. I’m sure there are many more and perhaps some closer to home. The focus of The Smith Family, one of the organisations I support, is on helping disadvantaged Australian children get the most out of their education so they can improve their futures.

Having spent almost all my life in education in a variety of roles; including student, teacher, teacher support and educational writer, I know how hard teachers work and the importance of the contribution they make to each life they touch. I also know that sometimes they work in situations that cause them much stress, in which they don’t feel valued, and are unsupported. Sadly, more and more experienced teachers are leaving the classroom for these and other reasons, which will only make it more difficult to reach the 2030 goal of universal education.

Happy World Teachers' Day discount subscription

Continue reading: readilearn: Smiles unite our world

readilearn teaching resources for the first three years of school

readilearn: freemium lower primary teaching resources with lessons ready to teach

In this post, I explain what readilearn is and how it works. There is more to readilearn than just this blog. In fact, this blog is just one small part of it.

readilearn is a collection of digital teaching resources designed for use with children from about five to seven years of age in their first three years of school. They are equally suited to the homeschool situation and for use with ESL students.

A freemium website, readilearn provides free support and resources for teachers in a variety of ways. However, some resources are exclusive to subscribers. The small annual subscription of just AU$25 reduces teachers’ workloads with lessons ready to teach and recognises and adds little to the expenditure many already occur in purchasing resources for their classrooms.

Resources are available across curriculum areas. Many provide contexts for integrating learning in fun and meaningful ways.

readilearn categories and subject or curriculum areas

readilearn resources support teachers teaching and children learning by providing opportunities for discussions that promote thinking, collaboration and learning across the curriculum. Open-ended discussions encourage children to learn from each other as well as the teacher and to participate at their own level.

Resources include
  • original digital stories (estories)
  • interactive teaching episodes
  • open-ended problem-solving activities
  • readilessons (lessons ready to teach)
  • printable activities
  • teaching suggestions
  • notes for parents
  • and more.
Free from readilearn

Continue reading: readilearn: freemium lower primary teaching resources with lessons ready to teach

be prepared - the casual teacher's motto

readilearn: Be prepared – a casual teacher’s motto

It’s not always easy being a casual teacher, taking over another teacher’s class for the day. You might be in a different class at a different school, working with a different age group and a different set of expectations, and probably playground duty, every day of the week.

But it does have its advantages too. You can arrive just before school begins and leave when it finishes. You don’t have to do assessment, write reports or be involved in parent meetings.

But it is important to be prepared.

Familiarise yourself with the class timetable and program

Many teachers leave a program for relief teachers to follow and, if one is available, it is important to follow it to maintain continuity for the children and to avoid interrupting the teaching and learning schedule. However, there may be days when a program is not available, and a casual teacher needs to be prepared for these.

Whether a day’s program is available or not, it is important to remember that it’s not your class. There will be established class expectations, procedures and timetables. The day will work best if these can be followed as closely as possible, particularly if teacher aides, support personnel and specialist teachers are involved.

Introduce yourself and your expectations

Continue reading: readilearn: Be prepared – a casual teacher’s motto

interactive whiteboard teaching resources for kindergarten

readilearn: Interactive whiteboard resources for kindergarten

“I’ve got an interactive whiteboard in my room but I don’t know how to use it.”

“What readilearn resources can I use with my kindergarten children?’

“Schools have said they want our children to come to school able to listen and follow instructions. What resources can we use?”

These are some of the statements and questions that teachers of children in their kindergarten year, the year before they start formal schooling, have put to me.

The main focus of my preparation of readilearn teaching resources is on the first three years of school. I hadn’t considered their application with children aged four to five. However, teachers have assured me that some of the readilearn interactive whiteboard lessons are very suitable for children in kindergarten as one part of a rich play-based learning-focused environment.

Using readilearn lessons on the interactive whiteboard in kindergarten

  • provides variety,
  • introduces children to the use of technology and some of the skills involved such as drag and drop, and click to select items,
  • provides opportunities for children to take turns, work cooperatively, listen actively to the teacher and other children,
  • encourages vocabulary development – the lessons are intended to be teacher-led and involve discussion with the children.

readilearn lessons support kindergarten teachers with

  • lessons ready to teach – login in the morning, keep one tab open – stay logged in for the day,
  • opportunities for children to make the connection between print and spoken language,
  • providing children who are ready to read opportunities of doing so.

readilearn interactive resources and lessons suitable for use in kindergarten:

Continue reading: readilearn: Interactive whiteboard resources for kindergarten

interactive teaching resources for use on the interactive whiteboard for the first three years of school

readilearn: What place do worksheets have in your early childhood classroom?

How do you feel about worksheets? Love them? Hate them? Use them sparingly?

I would say I’ve never been greatly in favour of worksheets. I’m not saying I never used them, but I used them sparingly. If I could do something as well or better without using a worksheet I would. There were a few reasons for this:

  • I valued children’s own work and didn’t feel the need to “pretty” up their books with the work of others.
  • I always looked for ways to progress children’s learning as opposed to keeping them busy.
  • I liked to reduce our paper usage.

Available on the internet and in bookstores are oodles of collections of worksheets; worksheets for anything you can imagine. You can spend hours trawling through websites looking for a sheet to support learning or practice a specific concept. Some of that time could be better spent considering other opportunities you could provide children for learning or practice, or even doing something pleasant for yourself for a change. Now there’s a thought.

When you think you may want a worksheet, or come across a worksheet that you may want to use, stop and evaluate its potential benefit:

Continue reading: readilearn: What place do worksheets have in your early childhood classroom?