Category Archives: readilearn

Linking Science and Literacy with Picture Books – #readilearn

Last month, I was invited by the Science Teachers Association of Queensland (STAQ) to present a talk about using picture books in science lessons as part of their Growing Science webinars in the lead up to Science Week. What a great opportunity — picture books and science. What’s to not like? Picture books are one of the best ways I know of turning young children onto two of my favourite things — reading and learning.

You can find out more about the webinar series and access recordings and free resources on the STAQ website here.

Below is a brief version of the article I wrote as the basis of my presentation.

You can access the entire article in the zip folder Using Picture Books in Science Lessons, which also includes other handouts I provided to support my talk.

You can listen to the talk via this link or watch it below.

Linking science and literacy

Language is as important to the science curriculum as it is to the English curriculum. Science is another context in which language is used and must be learned.

In this article I’m going to show you some ways of including picture books in your science lessons.

Many of the skills required by science are also literacy skills; skills such as:

 

Continue reading: Linking Science and Literacy with Picture Books – readilearn

Cake in the Pan #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about the cooking show. It can be any cooking show, real or imagined. Who is there? What happens? Make it fun or follow a disaster. Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you like it.

Cake in the Pan

Deidre laughed, sang and clapped on cue at her first-ever real live Christmas pantomime, until … the clowns prepared the cake. Deidre knew how to make cakes — she’d made them with her mum. The clowns obviously didn’t — tipping more flour over each other than into the pan, splashing the milk, and cracking in eggs, shells and all. The audience roared as the clowns placed a lid on the pan, shook it vigorously, then tipped out a magnificent cake. When offered a slice, Deidre folded her arms and clamped her lips. A cake made like that could never taste good.

👩‍🍳

This story is inspired by a true event. However, the only thing I remember is being horrified at the way the clowns put everything into the pan, including the egg shells, and turned out a cake. In writing, I tried to get back to what an expanded memory may have included. I hope it has worked.

The thought of being horrified at everything going into the pan in which the cake is to be cooked is now quite funny, as I know there are quite a few recipes made that way; including one of my favourites to make with children. If I was to ever be in a cooking show, this is what I’d make. And there’s not even an egg in sight.

Moon Cake

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

5 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon bi-carbonate of soda (baking soda)

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 cup milk

2/3 cup miniature marshmallows

Utensils

A cake pan

A cup measure

A mixing spoon

A tablespoon

A teaspoon

Method

1.         Preheat the oven to 180° (350⁰F, Gas mark #4)

2.         Put the flour, sugars, salt and cocoa in the cake pan. Mix them carefully. You will have the light brown moon sand.

3.         Use the mixing spoon to make a big crater in the middle so the bottom of the pan shows through. Make another medium-sized crater and a little crater.

4.         Put the baking soda in the medium-sized crater.

5.         Pour the melted butter into the big crater.

6.         Pour the vanilla into the little crater.

7.         Pour the vinegar onto the bi-carb soda in the medium-sized crater. Watch it become a bubbling, foaming volcano.

8.         When the volcano stops foaming, pour the milk over the moon sand and carefully mix it all together until it looks like smooth moon mud.

9.         Scatter marshmallow rocks over the surface.

10.       Bake it for around 35 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the centre comes out dry. Let the cake cool in the pan.

This recipe is available in different formats on my website readilearn and there are also some suggestions for science discussions while making the cake.

Enjoy a slice!

Thank you blog post

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

The Winners! — Environment Award for Children’s Lit, 2021 – #readilearn

The winners of 2021 ENVIRONMENT AWARD FOR CHILDREN’S LITERATURE have been announced!

Recently, I shared with you the shortlist for the Environment Award for Children’s Literature. Today it is my pleasure to let you know the winners in each of the three categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction and Picture Fiction.

Over to the Wilderness Society for their announcement:

The winners for this year’s Environment Award for Children’s Literature have been announced by the Wilderness Society during Nature Book Week, which runs between 6 – 12 September.

Now in its 27th year, the Wilderness Society shortlists the best children’s nature books before a panel of judges crowns a winner for three categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Picture Fiction. The award showcases and celebrates some of the best writers and illustrators working in children’s literature.

Continue reading: The Winners! — Environment Award for Children’s Lit, 2021 – readilearn

The Importance of the Early Years – #readilearn

Note: This article was first written for and published at the Carrot Ranch Literary Community as part of a series supporting parents with children learning at home. The focus of the article is early childhood development and contains information and ideas that teachers and schools may find suitable for sharing with parents.

The early years are crucial to child development and what happens in those years can be used to predict, to some extent, what will happen in that’s child’s future.

I had already intended sharing videos about early childhood development in this post, and still will. But when my sister told me about this Ted Talk by Molly Wright, a pretty amazing 7-year-old, I just knew I had to share it first. She does a great job of summing up the importance of the early years. I’m not going to summarise her talk for you as it’s only 7 ½ minutes long and I’m sure you will enjoy it more coming from Molly.

For me, the only thing she leaves out that I wish she had included is reading stories. Although it’s probably understood, I would like to have heard it mentioned.

Now back to my original plan of sharing two Ted Talks.

(Tip: I understand that watching talks can be time consuming. I find I can often follow them just as well, or better, when I watch them at increased speed. In case you don’t know, to do this is easy. Click on the Settings cogwheel, select Playback speed and choose the speed that suits you. I often try 1.75 first and adjust down if necessary.)

The first talk is Lessons from the longest study on human development by Helen Pearson.

Continue reading: The Importance of the Early Years – readilearn

Finding ‘Home’ — a new picture book by Karen Hendriks – #readilearn

Today I am delighted to share with you Karen Hendriks’s recent picture book Home as part of a Books On Tour promotion.

Home, published by Daisy Lane Publishing, is a story of hope for a brighter future.

I previously introduced Karen to you when we explored how creativity was celebrated in her picture book Go Away, Foxy, Foxy. I am also pleased to say that, in some way, Karen and I are writing buddies. We both have stories in last year’s anthology Tell ‘em They’re Dreaming as well as in this year’s anthology to be released next week Once Upon a Whoops!

About Karen Hendriks

Karen Hendriks is a children’s author who lives in a small seaside village in Shellharbour, New South Wales. Picture books are her favourite kind of books. Karen adores how words and pictures join together to create story magic in picture books. Karen is very passionate about writing quality stories for children.

About Home — the blub

War ends, yet its dark shadow remains.

A family is forced to flee their home.

As they journey through hunger, long cold nights, and homelessness,

a heart locket whispers words of hope.

And a country that’s far away,

calls for those that are no longer wanted.

It offers new beginnings and a precious place, once more to call home.

As explained in an interview with Romi Sharp on the Just Kids’ Lit blog, the book was inspired by a journey taken by Hendriks’s own family after the Second World War. It is a slice of history of which many are unaware.

Hendriks writes:

Between 1945 and 1946, three million Sudeten Germans were expelled from the Sudeten Mountains to Germany, Austria and the Soviet Zone. It was the largest forced refugee movement of a single population in the 20th century. I always felt the deep sadness inside my Oma about the loss of her family home. This pulled at me to write about losing home. When researching for Home I discovered that my Mum, Oma and great Oma and Opa were Sudeten Germans.  My Mum was a baby when they were forced to leave their mountain village called Wunschendorf, in Czech. It is now known as Srbska. My great Opa was in still in a concentration camp for opposing Hitler. So it was my Mum as a baby, Oma and Great Oma and they walked from their village to East Germany. This story is so important to me because the plight of the Sudeten Germans is not really known and their story is my story, too.

You can read more about Hendriks’s family and the illustrator in this post on Just Write for Kids.

What I like about Home

Continue reading: Finding ‘Home’ — a new picture book by Karen Hendriks – Readilearn

Happy 5th Birthday, readilearn! – #readilearn

Today. Tuesday 24 August 2021, is readilearn’s fifth birthday. Thank you for joining our journey.

A birthday gift for you

To help us celebrate, we have a readilearn birthday gift for you.

For the next ten days, until Friday 3 September 2021, two of our birthday resources are available to you, absolutely free.

Happy Birthday — an interactive resource to personalise (usually $2)

The Birthday Bundle includes 8 birthday-themed printable resources in one easy-to-download bundle (usually $2.50, or $8.50 if purchased individually)

These resources include:

Continue reading: Happy 5th Birthday, readilearn! – readilearn

I Wonder… a book for our planet by Allison Paterson – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Allison Paterson and her delightful new picture book I Wonder with illustrations by Nancy Bevington and published by Big Sky Publishing. This post is part of a Books On Tour promotion.

I previously introduced you to Allison when I interviewed her about her non-fiction book Australia Remembers: Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and War Memorials.

About Allison Paterson

Allison Marlow Paterson is an Australian Author who writes stories for children and adults.

Allison’s writing reflects her passion for the past. In addition to creating books for adults and picture books about growing up on the farm, she is the author of the ABIA and CBCA notable title Anzac Sons: Five Brothers on the Western Front.

Her 2018 release Australia Remembers: Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and War Memorials heralded a new non-fiction series, with the next – Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force – arriving in 2021. Allison’s first novel for young adults – Follow After Me – was created while undertaking a May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Fellowship.

I Wonder is Allison’s latest picture book for children and is inspired by Australia’s beautiful beaches and her concern for the environment

The Sunshine Coast is where Allison enjoys life as a writer, presenter and publishing consultant.

About I Wonder

The little wooden boat has been left behind in the sand dunes. Odd things pass it by, tumbling and floating into the ocean – a chip packet, a takeaway cup and a plastic bag. The little wooden boat wonders and worries … Is it a forgotten thing? Is it just rubbish now? Will it ever find a home again? This delightful tale will inspire readers to take the small steps needed to care for their world – no matter how young they are!

What I like about I Wonder

Continue reading: I Wonder… a book for our planet by Allison Paterson – Readilearn

Fruit, Vegetables and Food for Thought — Science Week – #readilearn

Next week, from 14 – 22 August, is National Science Week in Australia. The theme for this year is Food: Different by Design which fits perfectly with this year being the International Year of Fruit and Vegetables.

Focus on fruits and Vegetables

Here is a wonderful video promoting fruits and vegetables for the International Year.

The video is fun to watch and makes my mouth water with all the bright and colourful photographs of delicious fruits and vegetables. If you watch the video with your students, it may lead to many and varied follow-up discussions and activities. Here are just a few suggestions.

Discussions

What fruits and vegetables can you name?

Which of them are fruits and which are vegetables?

What is the difference between fruit and vegetables?

Which of these fruits and vegetables have you tried?

Which is/are your favourites?

Is your favourite included in the video?

What is your favourite way to eat these fruits and vegetables?

Activities

Extend vocabulary — make a list describing the fruits and vegetables and what children like about them; for example: sweet, juicy, crunchy, soft, ripe, nutritious, delicious, raw, cooked, bitter, exotic.

Have children draw or write about their favourite fruit or vegetable treat.

Set up a fruit and vegetable market in the classroom using laminated children’s drawings or images cut from magazines; plastic, wooden or paper mache fruit and vegetables, and use it for a variety of activities including sorting and shopping.

Food

Make a fruit salad or fruit kebabs. Invite every child to contribute a piece of fruit. Share it for brain break or morning tea.

Make vegetable soup. Invite children to contribute a vegetable. Serve it with bread or savoury scones, which you could also make, for lunch.

These readilearn resources provide suggestions for other lunch ideas that are easily prepared at school.

How to make a healthy smiley face sandwich is a procedural text with step-by-step instructions that are easy enough for children to follow on their own with the supervision of an adult in a small group. The activity is suitable for use in literacy groups. It could be incorporated into a unit focusing on healthy eating.

Continue reading: Fruit, Vegetables and Food for Thought — Science Week – readilearn

Once Upon a Whoops! Cover Reveal — Pre-orders Open – #readilearn

Today I am excited to announce that this year’s Share Your Story Anthology, Once Upon a Whoops! is available for pre-order now and will be available for sale on 1 September.

Once Upon a Whoops! is a collection of twisted fairy tales and ridiculous rhymes with peculiar pictures, all by Australian authors and illustrators.

I am delighted to tell you that I have two fractured fairy tales included in the collection: Three Alpha Pigs and Silverlocks and the Three Bears.

Three Alpha Pigs twists the original Three Little Pigs with three pig brothers who are definitely of this century. In case you didn’t know, as I didn’t until I researched it for my story, Generation Alpha are those born since 2010. Like many of their generation, the brothers play video games and avoid chores whenever possible. They think that having built successfully in Minecraft, they’ll be able to build successfully in the ‘real’ world when they leave home and need somewhere to live. Mr Gruff, who lives next door, doesn’t think they’ll stay away from the comforts of home too long. His kids never do.

Silverlocks is an older Goldilocks. She’s done her time and wishes everyone would stop reminding her of her past. She uses an online booking service to secure holiday accommodation, but things don’t turn out as she hoped and flashbacks of the past intrude on her stay.

In addition to my two stories, there are more than forty stories and poems collected in the anthology, including some by authors I’ve previously interviewed: June Perkins, Karen Hendricks, M J Gibbs and anthology organiser Michelle Worthington. Many other stories and poems are also by already published authors with many books to their names, so I’m in good company.

Proceeds of Sales

As with each of the previous Share Your Story anthologies, sales of the book will raise funds for charity. This year’s charity is Life’s Little Treasures Foundation, an organisation that provides support for families of premature or sick babies. This includes items such as Precious Prem Packs and guide books for families in hospital.

Copies of the anthology will be sent to every children’s hospital in Australia as part of the Little Readers Readathon.

Continue reading: Once Upon a Whoops! Cover Reveal — Pre-orders Open – readilearn

Let’s meet courageous, creative Claudette by Helene Magisson – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Claudette, the beautiful new picture book written and illustrated by Helene Magisson, published by Red Paper Kite. While Helene has illustrated many other picture books, this is the first that she has both written and illustrated.

I have previously introduced you to Helene’s gorgeous artwork when interviewing her about Magic Fish Dreaming, a collection of poems by June Perkins and Sarah’s Two Nativities by Janine M Fraser. Please refer back to those posts to find out more about her beautiful artwork.

About Helene Magisson

Helene Magisson is an award-winning illustrator. She started her artistic career as a painting restorer in Paris, where she was also trained in the art of medieval illumination.
Helene has lived in Africa, France and India. She is now settled down in Australia with her family. She has illustrated more than 15 books and has collaborated with major Australian publishers.
Recent awards include:
• Claudette, her first book as an author-illustrator, has been longlisted in the Australia Books Industry Awards 2021
• Little Puggle’s Song written by Vikki Conley, CBCA 2020 Notable Picture Book of the Year
• Slowly! Slowly! written by T.M. Clark, CBCA 2018 Notable Picture Book of the Year

About Claudette 

Loutka is a brilliant puppet maker. All of his creations work perfectly, just as he expects them to. Except for Claudette. She is a rickety misfit who longs for freedom and adventure. What can be done with such a puppet? Loutka doesn’t know.
So Claudette stays on the shelf. Until one incredible day…

Claudette takes the reader on a courageous and magical adventure beyond the clouds, discovering the power of beauty, possibility and self-worth along the way.

‘A book infused with magic!’ – Megan Daley, Children’s Books Daily

Longlisted in the Australia Books Industry Awards 2021

The Interview

Helene, we’ve met you before as an illustrator of beautiful picture books. Now we are talking to you as an author-illustrator.

What gave you the idea for this delightful story of the extraordinary puppet Claudette?

Continue reading: Let’s meet courageous, creative Claudette by Helene Magisson – Readilearn