Category Archives: readilearn

Introducing Andrew King author of the Engibear series – Readilearn

Today, I have great pleasure in introducing you to Dr Andrew King from Brisbane Australia. Andrew is an engineer, teacher, and writer of the popular Engibears series of picture books, designed to introduce children to engineering through friendly characters and story. Each book focusses on a particular aspect of engineering and, through examples and accompanying activities, is designed to encourage children to try engineering — to “Dream, Design and Develop”.

Dream, Design and Develop

Engibears have been part of Andrew’s family for many years. They were created while Andrew played and shared stories with his children.

Andrew thinks he is very lucky to be working with Benjamin Johnston, a Sydney-based architect and illustrator. Ben’s fantastic illustrations have brought Engibears and Munnagong, the city in which they live, to life.

Andrew is passionate about the role that Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (the STEM subjects) will play in our sustainable future and equally passionate about the importance of STEM education. He regularly talks to students about engineering, and facilitates student-centred engineering activities and programs.

His kids think he enjoys building shelves in his spare time. However, Andrew really enjoys spending time with his family, playing bass guitar, walking his dogs and trying to play golf.

The Engibear series includes three books; Engibear’s Dream, Engibear’s Bridge and Engilina’s Trains. In the most recent, Engilina’s Trains, Engilina, Engibear and Bearbot are back to build transport for the future – a new maglev train that will run from Munnagong to Billaburra as fast as a plane. During the project, they discover an old steam engine which leads them on an interesting journey and creates an unexpected link to the past. It’s an interesting story of trains, teamwork, technology and time.

Now let’s meet Andrew. Welcome to readilearn, Andrew. We are looking forward to getting to know a little more about you and your books.

Thanks for inviting me.

Andrew, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Continue reading: readilearn: Introducing Andrew King author of the Engibear series – Readilearn

readilearn: What parents can do to prepare their children for school

Parents often approach teachers wanting to know what they should teach their children or how to prepare their children for school—should they teach them the letter names or sounds or how far should they teach them to count?

However, for most teachers, these are not of highest priority.

What teachers value most is an ability to:

  • engage in conversation about experiences and ideas
  • get along with others and make friends
  • identify and organise personal belongings

and to have:

  • an interest in books
  • a curiosity about the world, and
  • a willingness to have a go and try new things.

The best way parents can prepare their children for school is by spending time with them, talking with them, playing games with them, reading stories to them and encouraging their curiosity by providing them with opportunities to question, learn and explore.

It is important for parents to see themselves as their children’s first and most important teachers. When their children start school, it is not time for them to relinquish their responsibility. Instead, it is important for them to work in partnership with teachers to ensure the best chance of success for their children.

Last week I shared an article, originally published in The Conversation, in which Kym Simoncini provided parents with suggestions for developing young children’s interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics.)

This week, I share a letter to parents of children beginning school, congratulating them on their contribution and requesting their ongoing support.

Dear Parents,

Congratulations on teaching your child to speak!

Continue reading: What parents can do to prepare their children for school? – Readilearn

Five things parents can do every day to help develop STEM skills from a young age – Readilearn

The development of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills can be encouraged in children, even before they start school, by parents who are attuned to opportunities for learning.

I’ve previously introduced you to Rebecca Johnson, Narinda Sandry, Brenda Miles and Susan Sweet with their books and suggestions for including STEM in early childhood classroom learning, and soon I will be interviewing Andrew King about his beautiful Engibear series of picture books that focus on the engineering component in STEM. These supplement my own posts about incorporating STEM in the classroom here and here.

In this post, I share with you Five things parents can do every day to help develop stem skills from a young age by Kym Simoncini Assistant Professor in Early Childhood and Primary Education, University of Canberra. This article was first published in The Conversation. Throughout Kym’s article, you will notice links to other articles. Be sure to follow the links for even more great ideas and resources.

Now over to Kym Simoncini, University of Canberra

Five things parents can do every day to help develop STEM

skills from a young age

Educators and researchers agree early literacy experiences are important for children’s cognitive and language development. For the past 30 years there has been a strong movement to foster children’s literacy skills. This has resulted in an abundance of information on how parents can do this by reading books, singing songs and nursery rhymes, playing word games and noticing print.

This is a good thing and should continue, given the importance of early literacy skills in learning to read, and how this leads to later success in school and life.

Continue reading: Five things parents can do every day to help develop STEM skills from a young age – Readilearn

counting on fingers, mathematics, mathemagic,

Counting on fingers

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fingers that fly. Think about the different ways we use our fingers and what happens when we add speed. Go where the prompt leads.

I thought about the use young children make of their fingers when counting. It may increase their speed and ease of calculation in the beginning, but continued use tends to slow them down.

I also thought about magicians, and how the speed of their fingers amazes us with tricks and sleight of hand.

Combining both thoughts brought me to the mathemagician Arthur Benjamin who never ceases to astound with his calculations.

A performance of mathematic by Arthur Benjamin TED talk

Are you a math whiz, solving complicated problems and making calculations with large numbers effortlessly, or do you still need to count on your fingers at times?

I don’t think I was ever what would be considered a maths whiz, but I did have my confidence in maths taught out of me. Sadly, I think this happens to far too many.

Many children who have been provided experiences with number and engaged in discussions about number from a young age develop strong understandings and are able to calculate with little effort, arriving at answers almost intuitively. While it can be good to help them develop metacognition by asking them to explain how they knew, or how they worked it out, sometimes they don’t know how—they just know.

While some children need to be taught methods of working out answers, requiring maths intuitive thinkers to use the same working can cause them to second-guess themselves and to lose confidence by breaking what they know down into steps that only cause confusion.

I was interested to hear Arthur Benjamin’s plan for improving maths education when he is made “Czar of Mathematics”.

Arthur Benjamin Czar of Mathematics

His suggestions relate more to high school than primary, but probability and statistics still have their place in the early years, as I’ve shown with many readilearn resources.

For my response to Charli’s prompt, I’ve considered what may occur if a child’s intuition with maths is neither appreciated nor encouraged.

Counting on fingers
Everyone said she had a way with numbers. Even when still in nappies she was counting effortlessly to large numbers in multiples of twos, fives and tens as well as ones. The parents didn’t dare think they’d bred a genius, an outlier. They wished for an ordinary child who fitted in, unnoticed, like them.  They strove to inhibit her talent and discourage her enthusiasm. She tried to hide her ability by delaying responses with finger actions resembling calculation aids. But they slowed her none and flew too fast, earning her the nickname “Flying fingers” and ridicule instead of appreciation. 

Thank you blog post

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

Learning to be friends to combat bullying – Readilearn

With today 16 March being the National Day Against Bullying and Violence and next Wednesday 21 March being Harmony Day in Australia, now is a good time to think about what it means to be a friend, what bullying is, and how to combat it. Of course, any time is a great time for developing friendship skills, but these special days help to raise awareness.

The purpose of the National Day Against Bullying and Violence is fairly clear in its title. Harmony Day is for celebrating cultural diversity. “It’s about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.” That sounds very much like friendship to me.

The development of social skills, including the friendship skills of getting along, can not be left to chance. The skills must be actively encouraged and taught. Children must learn what behaviour is friendly, what is not friendly and what is bullying.

The teaching of these skills and behaviours should not be left to one or two days of the year but integrated into the teaching program. In fact, the best way to encourage friendship and discourage bullying is through the implementation of policies that foster respect and accept

Continue reading and see new teaching resources from readilearn: Learning to be friends to combat bullying – Readilearn

readilearn: The importance of reading aloud – a guest post by Jennie Fitzkee – Readilearn

Every day is a great day for reading aloud to children, but with the celebration of International Read to Me Day on March 19, now is a great time to give some thought to the importance of reading aloud in preparation for the Day’s celebrations. by arming yourself with a basket of books to read.

To help put us in the mood and assist our preparations, Jennie Fitzkee is here to tell us why reading aloud to children is important.

Jennie, a passionate and inspirational teacher, has been teaching preschool in Massachusetts for over thirty years.  She is considered by many to be the “book guru” and the “reader-aloud”.  She is also a writer and her work is often posted by The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.  This is what Jennie says of teaching:

“I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience.  Emergent curriculum opens young minds.  It’s the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting.  That’s what I write about.”

Jennie is highlighted in the new edition of Jim Trelease’s bestselling book, The Read-Aloud Handbook  because of her reading to children.  Her class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.  Their latest quilt is currently hanging at the Massachusetts State House in Boston.  In 2016, Jennie was one of seven teachers in Massachusetts to receive the Teacher of the Year Award.

I’m sure you’ll agree that there is much we can learn from Jennie.

Welcome to readilearn, Jennie. Over to you.

Continue reading: readilearn: The importance of reading aloud – a guest post by Jennie Fitzkee – Readilearn

Thank you blog post

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

writing in the lower primary classroom using the language experience approach

readilearn: Writing in the lower primary classroom – a guest post by Marsha Ingrao – Readilearn

Providing children with fun and purposeful activities for writing is one of the best ways to encourage a love of writing, to replace the drear with enthusiasm.

In this post, I introduce guest author Marsha Ingrao who shares suggestions for bringing joy to your writing lessons through the Language Experience Approach.

“The Language Experience Approach (LEA) is a literacy development method that has long been used for early reading development with first language learners…It combines all four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.”

Professional Learning Board

Although Marsha retired from public education in 2012, her passion for education remains and she continues to educate through blogging, speaking engagements and volunteering for Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce. Her classroom experience ranged from teaching kindergarten to fourth grade. She left the classroom to work as a consultant for the county office of education first in math, working with migrant education, then in history and language arts. She is author of Images of America Woodlake, a history of her local Woodlake area, published by Arcadia Press.

Welcome to readilearn, Marsha. Over to you.

Because LEA employs all four branches of language arts, listening, speaking, reading and writing, it is perfect for teaching writing to pre-school and primary students as well. With the thrust in the United States for non-fiction reading, the language experience approach becomes the perfect avenue for teaching writing to young children.

To make the language experience approach applicable to all young students, adult assistance is required.

The “How To” Essay

Beginning in pre-school, we tackled one of the hardest types of writing, the “how to” essay. Holiday traditions are the perfect avenue for this

Continue reading: readilearn: Writing in the lower primary classroom – a guest post by Marsha Ingrao – Readilearn