Category Archives: readilearn

interview with Elizabeth Mary Cummings author of The Forever Kid

readilearn: Books on Wednesday — The Forever Kid by Elizabeth Cummings

This week I have great pleasure in introducing Elizabeth Cummings author of The Forever Kid. This post is but one of several celebrating Elizabeth’s beautiful picture book in Romi Sharp’s Books on Tour. Please read to the end of the post for details of other posts celebrating Elizabeth’s work.

About Elizabeth Cummings

Elizabeth Mary Cummings is a British author based in Australia. She writes, advocates for and speaks about storytelling and health matters for families and youth. She is a qualified Primary School teacher and has worked in many schools in the UK, New Zealand and Australia. She is a member of the American Psychology Association and studied psychology and business studies at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland before training to be a Primary School teacher and travelling around the world with her family.

The topics in Elizabeth’s books are of both local and global significance. Elizabeth travels globally to talk about family and mental health matters as well as creative writing.

About The Forever Kid

The Forever Kid, a sensitively written picture book about life after the death of a sibling, is a culmination of four years’ work.  Beautifully illustrated by Cheri Hughes, it is published in Australia by Big Sky Publishing.

Synopsis

It is Johnny’s birthday and, although Johnny is no longer with them, his family gather to celebrate. Johnny’s brother explains to the reader how much Johnny meant to every member of the family and how the family feel closest to him when they remember him on his birthday. The story finishes with the family lying together on the grass telling each other cloud stories, just like they used to with Johnny.

Continue reading: readilearn: Books on Wednesday — The Forever Kid by Elizabeth Cummings

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

Interview with Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern author of Charlie's Adventures in South Africa

readilearn: Books on Wednesday — Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa by Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern

This week I have great pleasure in introducing Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern author of Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa. This post is but one of several celebrating Jacqueline’s beautiful picture book in Romi Sharp’s Books on Tour. Please read to the end of the post for details of other posts celebrating Jacqueline’s work.

About Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern

Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern is a Canberra based author and the recipient of the ACT Writers Centre 2017 Anne Edgeworth Fellowship. Her debut picture book, Charlie’s Adventures…in Hawaii, was shortlisted for the 2017 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards and chosen as a finalist in the 2017 American Best Book Awards. Her second book in the Charlie’s Adventure series, Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa, was recently released. At the heart of Jacqueline’s books are an appreciation of travel and the uniqueness of culture. She endeavours to encourage her readers to learn more about the world, supporting an empathetic and inclusive community.

About Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa

Charlie is off on the second of his adventures with his family … to South Africa! With his friends, Charlie is set on a discovery of different clues to uncover South Africa’s Rainbow Nation. Join Charlie and his family on their adventures across the world.

The interview

Welcome to readilearn, Jacqueline.

Thanks for inviting me.

Jacqueline, what gave you the idea for this book?

Continue reading: readilearn: Books on Wednesday — Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa by Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern

celebrating diversity in a multi-cultural classroom: a parade of nations

A parade of nations in a multicultural classroom

A parade of nations flash fiction prompt by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a parade of nations. It can be literal, or it can be a phrase that you use to describe a situation. Explore what it could be. Go where the prompt leads.

One need look no further than a classroom of children to find a parade of nations. Below is my response to Charli’s prompt, but please read on for information about Multicultural Children’s Book Day, International Day of Peace, and suggestions of books to read.

A parade of nations

The children listened intently, eager to learn. Each family’s wish was for a better life. The group was a parade of nations; with Dragos from Serbia, Duy from Vietnam, Melino from Tonga, Ervine from Scotland, Rongo from New Zealand, Jung from Korea, Sanhitha from Sri Lanka, and Jawara from Senegal; and these were only the new arrivals. Others were first and second generation with but a few who could count back further than three, except for Kinta whose ancestors were the first to arrive. The wall map, dotted with pins to show each one’s heritage, was their proudest display.

While I have taught classes with children from each of these countries, and many more, for the purpose of my story I used the Baby Name Finder at Mom Junction to locate names with friendly, peaceful meanings. It is a very helpful resource.

family traditions and celebrations a unit of work for the first three years of school

It was my experience in such multi-cultural classrooms that prompted me to make a resource to facilitate learning about our own and each other’s cultural traditions and celebrations. The resource is now available on readilearn.

Multicultural Children's Book Day

Used courtesy of Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Thinking about the diversity that exists in our classrooms, our cities, our countries and our world is a perfect time to bring to your awareness Multicultural Children’s Book Day, the focus of which is on “bringing attention to all of the amazing children’s books available that celebrate diversity.”

The co-creators of the event Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen define multicultural books as those that

  • include characters of colour or that represent a minority point of view
  • share ideas, stories, and information about cultures, race, religion, language, and traditions
  • embrace our world and offer children new ways to connect to a diverse and richer world.

On the Multicultural Children’s Book Day website, teachers can find a collection of helpful resources; including a classroom kindness kit and a classroom empathy kit. Authors and publishers of multicultural books are also invited to sponsor Multicultural Children’s Book Day through a range of sponsorship options already open for 2019. Interest in the day has increased in the six years since its inception and that growth can only continue. While it is wonderful to see the greater number of books with multicultural and diverse themes now available, more are still needed.

Whoever You Are Mem Fox

One of my long-time favourites is Whoever You Are written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Leslie Staub. I have read it to many groups of children, every one of whom has loved its powerful message: that underneath it all, we are just the same.

You can read about, listen to Mem read, or purchase the book here.

I'm Australian Too a picture book by Mem Fox

A newer favourite is another by Mem FoxI’m Australian Too. This one is illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh.

This book is a celebration of all cultures and heritages that are represented in the Australian population and together make our country what it is.

You can read about, listen to Mem read, or purchase the book here.

All are Welcome, a picture book by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman

An even newer favourite is All are Welcome written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman.

I first heard about this book from the wonderful Patricia Tilton who blogs at Children’s Books Heal. Patricia’s aim with her blog is to “share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives.” I have purchased many lovely books recommended by Patricia and never been disappointed.

Just as I was completing a draft of this post, I received notification of a new post by Patricia. You won’t believe it, but Patricia wrote about the book again for the International Day of Peace on 21 September. How perfect. Please pop over to Patricia’s post for more details about this beautiful book.

Once, long ago, there used to be a recording of Bill Martin Jr. singing I am Freedom’s Child on his website. I loved singing along to it with my class. The words were especially meaningful in our multicultural classes. We sang, “As I learn to like the differences in me, I learn to like the differences in you.” What a wonderful thought that, with acceptance of ourselves, comes acceptance of others. If we could just do that, we would indeed, all be freedom’s children.

Thank you blog post

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

introducing-robbie-cheadle-author-and-illustrator-of-the-sir-chocolate-book-series

readilearn: Introducing Robbie Cheadle author and illustrator of the Sir Chocolate Book series

This week I have great pleasure in introducing you to Robbie Cheadle author and illustrator of the Sir Chocolate Book series.

What most appeals to me about the Sir Chocolate Books is Robbie’s amazing fondant illustrations. I am also impressed that her twelve-year-old son Michael co-authors the books with her, and has been since he was ten. Perhaps your children will also find this aspect interesting.

About the books

Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet live in Chocolate Land where everything can be eaten. In each story, told in rhyme, Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet have a new adventure or problem to solve. Robbie also includes recipes from the story in each book.

To date, there are five books in the Sir Chocolate Book series.

About Robbie

Robbie Cheadle was born in London. Her father died when she was three months old, and she and her mother emigrated to South Africa where they lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town. While growing up, Robbie attended fourteen different schools. This gave her many opportunities to develop social skills and meet new people as she was often “the new girl”.

Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and writes in that field about equities and investments in South Africa.

While Michael co-authors the books with her, Robbie’s other son Gregory (aged 14) assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books. The books are very much a family affair.

For other books written by Robbie, see the end of the blog post.

The interview

Welcome to readilearn, Robbie.

Thank you for inviting me.

 Robbie, the number of books in the Sir Chocolate book series is continually growing with five books now available. What gave you the idea for this series?

Continue reading: readilearn: Introducing Robbie Cheadle author and illustrator of the Sir Chocolate Book series

innovating on the traditional story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears

When you’re on a theme, stick to it

Education is my theme. It’s my passion. Sometimes I think I should get another interest, but I’m stuck with this one. Sometimes I get stuck with a theme within a theme too. That’s happening at the moment.

Goldilocks and her Friends the Three Bears interactive innovation

A couple of weeks ago, I uploaded an innovation on the traditional story of Goldilocks to readilearn, a collection of teaching resources for the first three years of school. I also added some suggestions for using the resource to teach reading and writing, including sight words in context. I have other supporting resources in progress to be added to the collection soon.

While my story Goldilocks and her Friends the Three Bears is not really a fractured fairy tale, it’s simply a retelling with an alternative ending; I’ve also been thinking of fractured fairy tales for my Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest coming up next month. (Look for further details to be published at the Ranch this week.)

So stuck on this theme am I, that I wrote a 297 (3 x 99) word story as a response to Charli’s Tuff prompt “Papa’s Bar”. While this Free-Write contest is now closed (writers have only twenty-four hours to respond to the prompt), there will be four more chances to enter the TUFFest Ride event with the next one scheduled for September 19. Be sure to look out for it if you want to be in it.

Note: I’m not sure where or what the Papa’s bar is that Charli alluded to, but I am sure that it’s not what I wrote my story about. In Australia, when we play tiggy, that you might know as tag or tig, or some other name, we might allocate a certain spot as ‘bar’. This means that you are safe and cannot be tagged when on or touching that spot. Sometimes, players will attempt to allocate a spot as bar just as they arrive at it in order to avoid being tagged.

While I have no thoughts that I may win any of the TUFF contests, it is fun having a go. This is what I wrote in response to the Papa’s Bar prompt. I hope you enjoy it.

bears sleeping

Papa’s Bar

Out in the woods lived a family of bears; Papa Bear, Mama Bear and baby bears five. All summer long, Papa Bear toiled, ensuring his family were contentedly fuelled, ready to sleep through the winter’s long dark. They filled up their bellies with berries hung low, with fish in abundance in streams flowing clear, and hives’ full bounty of gold. Mama and babies had no need to complain, every meal Papa made, a sumptuous feast.  When autumn arrived, and food became scarce, Papa Bear said, ‘Now’s time for bed. Close your eyes little ones, dream sweet dreams until spring.’

The babies were restless, not ready for sleep.

‘We need a story,’ a little one said. ‘Tell us about life when you were a cub. What did you eat? Where did you play?’

‘Just one story — then sleep.’

‘We need a drink first,’ said the cubs.

‘Okay, but lickety-split.’

They had just settled back when another voice said, ‘I’m hungry.’

‘Me too,’ chimed the others.

‘Can’t be,’ said Papa Bear. ‘No food until spring.’

‘Awh,’ they chorused.

‘I could make some porridge,’ yawned Mama Bear.

‘Yay! Porridge!’ said the baby bears.

‘But then you must sleep,’ said Papa Bear.

But they didn’t. Before his story was through, Papa Bear was snoring with Mama Bear nestled beside him.

‘Let’s play tag,’ smirked one.

‘I’m It,’ said another.

They took turns to run and catch, and through it all, the parent bears slept.

At last, the littlest bear yawned. No more running and catching, he was ready for sleep. He scrambled over Papa Bear, escaping the tagger’s clutches with a warning, ‘Can’t get me. Papa’s bar.’

His eyes closed and then, one by one, they snuggled into a big bear hug, murmuring ‘Papa’s bar’ as they drifted off to sleep.

Pasta prompt for Carrot Ranch Flash fiction prompt by Charli Mills

When Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch posted this week’s flash fiction prompt, challenging writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes pasta. It can be spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, or any variety. It can be a meal or a work of art. Go where the prompt leads, how could I not get the bears in on the act again.

This is my response. I hope you enjoy it too.

Pasta for Breakfast

Papa Bear pushed back his chair. “Not this muck again.”

Mama Bear stopped mid-ladle. “It’s Baby Bear’s favourite. I— I thought it was yours too.”

Baby Bear’s lip quivered.

“Pfft! Sometimes a bear needs real food.” He grabbed his hat. “I’m going for a walk.”

“Papa!” Baby Bear went after him.

Mama Bear dumped the porridge, pot and all, into the bin, grabbed her hat and followed.

“Where are we going?” asked Baby Bear.

“Somewhere nice for breakfast. It is spring after all.”

Papa Bear paused outside BreakFasta Pasta, then went in.

Mama Bear smiled; pasta was her favourite.

Thank you blog post

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