As schools in Australia close for our long Christmas/summer holidays, I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very happy and safe holiday period, however you celebrate it. May moments of joy be abundant and opportunities to relax and refresh plentiful. Most of all, may you find time for those things that bring you most enjoyment. Life is, after all, meant to be fun.
I will be taking a blogging break for a few weeks to rest and recuperate after a very busy year. I’m hopeful that, early in 2023, we’ll have a fresher new-look website (after it’s had a chance to rest and rejuvenate too).
With best wishes for the Christmas period and wondrous possibilities in 2023.
Today it is my pleasure to review a fun new picture book Cheese on Toast, written by Kelly Louise Jarris. This post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.
About author Kelly Louise Jarris
As a mother of four boys, Kelly Jarris has been lucky enough to see the diversity in each child, which is how the characters came about for her first book, Wonderful Wishes. Kelly also writes and appreciates stories from life experiences, with her recently released picture book, Imagine Our Special Place. Her sister’s journey with terminal cancer inspired Kelly to write a book that touches on sibling bonds, imagination and feelings of the unknown. Her third, fun picture book is Cheese on Toast.
Kelly has a background in veterinary nursing and was once an Australian wildlife rescuer.
Mum has prepared a delicious roast for dinner full of healthy vegetables like green beans, peas and carrots, but her son is not pleased. Will mum be able to convince him to give it a try?
This quirky, fun book is about a little boy who would rather have cheese on toast than mum’s yummy roast. Cheese On Toast is designed to get kids involved in the story while reading out aloud.
This catchy rhyme encourages reluctant readers to recite the words and participate in the story.
Kids can look out for a secret little carrot character hiding on each page, making it a little interactive for even the youngest readers.
What I like about Cheese on Toast
The child narrator of Cheese on Toast will be familiar to many parents with his insistence on having cheese on toast for dinner, rather than the lovely roast meal that his mum has prepared. Some children will eat anything that’s put in front of them, (I had one of those.) while some tend to the fussy side. (I also had one of those.) Getting the fussy ones to accept new tastes can be problematic for parents. Why not look on the lighter side with a fun picture book?
The rhythmic rhyming text with the repetitive refrain ‘What I really want the most, is some yummy cheese on toast’ encourages children to
As the countdown to the end of the school year and the Christmas holidays gets underway, here at readilearn, we ensure that learning continues when the Christmas fun begins.
Who celebrates Christmas?
Do you know which children in your class celebrate Christmas with their families? Conduct a survey to find out. While you may already know, the survey can be an interesting way to begin discussions of different cultural traditions celebrated by children in your class.
These discussions should always be respectful and inclusive. It is essential for children, and all of us, to see that what we have in common is more important than any differences.
How many school days until Christmas?
This calendar helps to count down the last fifteen days of term and provides an opportunity for children to present information about their family’s traditions. The Countdown Calendar can be used to countdown to Christmas or, for inclusivity, to the holidays.
Inclusive friendship trees
Build self-esteem and confidence as well as friendship skills with Friendship trees. They are easy to make and are a great way to ensure the children keep thinking friendly thoughts about each other.
Children make their own friendship tree and, every day, they write anonymous positive messages of friendship and affirmation to place in each other’s trees. At the end of the term, children take their trees home to read and enjoy over the holidays.
Another fun way to encourage the children to work together on a joint project of which they can be proud is to create a 3D classroom tree display. While children are proud of their individual contribution, they recognise the importance of everyone working together. The tree becomes a visible reminder of the importance of team work. It can be the focus of a beautiful classroom display.
Christmas Activity Book
The Christmas Activity Book has 30-pages and 22 different activities, and is perfect for use at home or in the classroom.
Today it is my pleasure to review a beautiful new picture book Little People Big Emotions written by Kylie Mort, illustrated by Tiina Morton and published by Serenity Press. This post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.
About the author Kylie Mort
Kylie Mort is many things, but she is a wordsmith at heart. An International Amazon #1 Best-Selling Author with multiple award-winning publications, she is also an App Developer with a NEW FREE APP, available on Google Play and The Apple App Store, that supports essay writing in targeted Question and Answer templates. “How to Write with Kylie Mort” guides students one sentence at a time through a step-by-step process that concludes with a complete and easily downloaded full essay! Due to her educational background as a qualified and registered secondary school teacher, Kylie’s main day-to-day activity is mentoring and coaching as an online tutor.
She likes to connect to the world from her farm in North-East Victoria, Australia.
About Little People Big Emotions
Sometimes my mind is a curious butterfly that flits from one idea to the next…a playful puppy that can’t concentrate…a busy blender that mixes things up…a mean monster that makes me feel bad. That’s OK because my parents and teachers know how to help me deal with all the emotions that feel so BIG. I can learn what to do when my mind is a mean monster…a busy blender…a playful puppy…and a curious butterfly…and I smile, knowing I am safe, and loved, and special. Focused on building resilience, self-worth and positive mental health in our young people, this is a beautifully inspiring parenting resource written by an internationally best-selling author qualified in Education, NLP, Performance Coaching and Psychology.
What I like about Little People Big Emotions
Little People Big Emotions is immediately captivating. The cover with its bold, bright colours and fun bouncy lettering invites us to enter. The joyous mood continues as we turn the pages, past the colourful title page to the first spread, where we encounter butterflies flitting across the landscape.
With 2022 rapidly drawing to a close, it’s now time to start thinking about ideas for 2023. Let’s explore some now!
Students love to participate in classroom decoration. Building on this, why not create a fish-themed classroom with aligned class activities. It will grow an appreciation for the majestic waterways, rich reefs and sea life that surrounds us.
You could also, on day one, set expectations by asking students: what sort of teacher would you like me to be this year? And then add the follow-up question: well, what type of student will you try to be?
Another great way to relate to students while also relaying important educational content is to focus lessons or classroom systems around the concept of sports and pastimes.
What are the chances? Students rate the chances of an outcome occurring using the terms, Will happen, Might happen, Certain. E.g., Next year, no one in our class will play a sport with a ball.
Systems of Communication – using umpire signals for a sport, what is the umpire communicating? E.g., Start of a game, high tackle, etc.
Sporty names: Using sporting team names to introduce or revisit the sounds and names of letters.
Inspired to incorporate some or all of the activities and concepts above? May I suggest the itc 2023 Early Years teachers’ diary, the itc innovative teachers’ companion. This diary has the usual planning and recording materials; however, it also contains an array of specialist K-2 lesson ideas and professional readings – including a full breakdown of the ideas touched on above!
There are also professional readings on:
Health and wellbeing tips
Phonics and word knowledge
And much more!
The activities have been assembled by a large team of writers, including Norah Colvin from readilearn, and the activities are referenced and aligned to the Australian curriculum and the Early Years Framework.
Next week, from 14th – 18th November, is World Nursery Rhyme Week. Why not celebrate by revisiting some of the children’s (and your) favourite nursey rhymes. Children in our F – 2 classrooms can explore language features and use them as a springboard for writing, recitation, and role play. Children in older classrooms may like to investigate their (often dark) origins and history.
The aim of World Nursery Rhyme Week is to promote the importance of nursery rhymes in early education. The five official nursery rhymes for this year’s celebration are:
The Big Ship Sails
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Once I Caught a Fish Alive
Five Little Speckled Frogs
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
However, you are welcome to use any nursery rhymes you like, and here at readilearn we have some resources to assist your teaching.
readilearn nursery rhyme resources
Teach literacy skills and develop creative thinking and imagination with Humpty Dumpty.
The Humpty Dumpty suite of resources includes:
The Accident — Humpty Dumpty’s Fall is an original story that innovates on the nursery rhyme by providing a scenario that might lead to Humpty’s falling from the wall. It is a digital estory which can be displayed and read on the interactive whiteboard. It can be read as a story on its own or as part of the writing unit Humpty Dumpty — a story in five sittings. (Note: if you wish to implement the writing unit, do so before reading the story.)
Humpty Dumpty — a story in five sittings is a series of five lessons in writing based upon the nursery rhyme. Each lesson provides opportunities for children to think creatively and imaginatively and to write using a basic narrative structure. It presupposes children already have an idea of sentence structure and some experience writing stories of their own.
Of course, before attempting to read or write an alternative, it is important that children are familiar with the nursery rhyme. We have that covered too, with a printable copy of the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty to download.
I’m delighted to tell you that It’s a Kind of Magic, Stories and Spells by Second-Rate Sorcerers is now available for purchase. The anthology is a collection of over 35 stories and poems written by authors young and old, emerging and established.
The book launch last Saturday was a lot of fun with story and poetry readings from the book. Authors, poets, children and their parents came in costume to set the mood for the festivities.
After listening to the readings, children did craft activities before trick-or-treating around the shopping centre where they received treats from all the stores whose participation had been organised by the launch host, The Mad Hatters Bookshop. What amazing collaboration to make the day so special for all involved.
It was a great morning and I thank The Mad Hatters Bookshop, Michelle Worthington (publisher and editor of the book and international award-winning author) and Kayt Duncan (author and story teller extraordinaire) for their hard work in making the event such a success. What an amazing team.
If you missed the launch, many of the stories may be viewed on the Storytime with Anthology Angels YouTube channel. If you wish to find out additional information about the writers, many of them have their own websites and are active on social media.
I have written some teacher notes for the book, which I hope you will find useful. You can read them here or download a free PDF copy here.
It is easy to find opportunities for using the book when teaching the English Curriculum as reading aloud by the teacher and opportunities for children to read independently are an essential part of each school day. The stories and poems are short and can be incorporated in the program or turned to when a diversion is needed to settle the class or when there a few minutes wait-time between lessons and activities.
I’ve listed the stories and poems under the following headings so that you can easily find a story or poem that features particular characters, settings, events, themes or language features you are teaching.
Poems and Rhyming Stories
Annie the Wonder Witch by Deborah Huff-Horwood, page 68
Although World Teachers’ Day is held internationally on 5 October, because that date often falls during our school holidays, here in Queensland we celebrate it on the last Friday in October — today!
I think every day is a great day for celebrating teachers and thanking them for the work they do. They are some of the hardest working people I know and sadly, often are abused rather than thanked. Many teachers are suffering burnout and leaving the profession due to lack of support. Some of these teachers are the most dedicated and caring people you would meet and often go beyond to provide wonderful opportunities for their students.
So, teachers, in celebration of you, wherever you are, in this post I am reminding you how amazing you are by sharing some of my favourite videos about teachers and teaching. Each one lets you know that the job you do is incredible, that you do make a difference to your children’s lives and that your relationship with them is vital. I’d love to know which is your favourite.
In just a little over a week, children will be celebrating Halloween. They are already planning Halloween parties and costumes, and shops are filled with Halloween decorations and merchandise. If you choose to join in the fun in the classroom, I’m here to tell you that learning can be combined with that fun. All readilearn resources are designed to encourage learning. They are not just time-filling worksheets.
readilearn Halloween resources
All readilearn Halloween-themed resources can be found via the Halloween tab in the Cultural Studies collection. Here are some favourites:
Trick or Treat is a printable game for two or more players of all ages. It is 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.
The zip folder contains everything needed to play the game (just add a dice) and includes follow-up activities that can be used to extend the learning.
How Many Treats? is an interactive Halloween-themed addition lesson for use on the interactive whiteboard. The lesson provides practice with numbers up to ten, and involves children in counting, adding and writing number sentences.
A follow-up worksheet for independent practice can be accessed from within the resource.
As announced last week, I am delighted to introduce Gerard Alford and the first of his series of guest posts for readilearn.
Gerard is a very experienced and respected education consultant, author and education resource developer. He is passionate in promoting high-order thinking and cooperative learning through engaging and effective evidence-based teaching methods. His teaching resources inspire and support busy teachers in creating engaging pedagogy and time-saving strategies to encourage successful student outcomes.
The worth of using thinking tools is well documented; they provide a clear pathway for students to complete a given task, provide students the means to organise their research and thoughts in a systematic way, and provide teachers with a clear insight into their student’s thinking.
That said, can thinking tools also be used to facilitate deeper discussion in the Early Years? I believe so, and here’s an example in action.
Your students have just read two texts: Humpty Dumpty and Little Miss Muffet, and you now have asked them to compare these texts.
Exactly what they compare (similarities and differences) will depend on the Year level; however, at a minimum, students will be comparing the events and the characters in the texts while also sharing their feelings and thoughts (as per ACELT1783).