Maths is fun in the early childhood classroom as we count, measure and problem solve our way through the day. With the International Day of Mathematics coming up soon on 14 March, there’s no better time to think about ways of incorporating a little more maths into the daily program. While there are some suggestions on the International Day of Mathematics website, most of them are more suited to older children.
Here at readilearn we have over 100 mathematics lessons and activities ready to support your teaching and children’s learning. Many of the resources are digital lessons ready for you to teach on the interactive whiteboard. Some are printable activities to follow up and extend children’s learning, while others provide instructions and explanations for mathematical explorations.
Plan a party to celebrate
There’s nothing like a party to instigate some mathematical thinking.
If you decide to have a party to celebrate the day, you could start ahead with the interactive problem solving story Little Koala’s Party. In the story, children help Little Koala work out the number of guests as well as food and other items required for the party. They can use the same strategies to plan a party of their own. Other resources, like invitation notepaper and a paper hat template, help to extend the learning across curriculum areas.
While you might ask children to bring food from home to share at the party, following recipes together at school involves children in using mathematics in real and purposeful ways. They may need to count, and measure quantities as well as time. Recipes can be found in the Cooking section.
February is packed full of days to celebrate. The next few days are no exception. Here at readilearn, we support your celebrations with suggestions and lessons ready to teach.
Chinese New Year
Today 12 February is celebrated around the world as Chinese New Year. While the New Year celebrations may continue for up to sixteen days, today is the main day and it ushers in the Year of the Ox. Chinese New Year is a time for families to be, and celebrate, together.
Don’t you love it when you find someone who not only shares your ideas but extends them in ways that challenge and make sense at the same time? I do.
I was recently introduced (in the virtual world) to educator Alfie Kohn. First, I listened to his book Punished by Rewards and am now listening to Unconditional Parenting. The bonus with both books is that Kohn narrates them, so the ideas come across exactly as he intended, and it sounds like he is presenting rather than reading. These books are great for both parents and teachers as well as others in any form of managerial role. I wish I’d had the opportunity of reading Kohn’s work before I became a teacher or a parent for the joy it would have given me in sharing and affirming ideas.
If you are a teacher or parent who questions the real value of offering children stars or stickers in the hope of motivating them or of grading the work they turn in, you will find much of interest in Kohn’s work. You could begin by exploring his website or dive straight into his articles and books as I did.
Here is an interview he did on Oprah in 2013 about his book Punished by Rewards. It includes some interesting perspectives from teachers and parents with whom you may or may not agree.
Today, the last Friday in January, is Multicultural Children’s Book Day. I am delighted to participate once again by spreading the word about Multicultural children’s books.
In this post I review the picture book Jamie and Bubbie, recently published by Free Spirit Publishing and gifted to me to review.
About Jamie and Bubbie
Jamie and Bubbie, A Book about People’s Pronouns was written by Afsaneh Moradian and illustrated by Maria Bogade. In a gentle way, it introduces children and adults to the appropriate use of pronouns when another’s gender is unknown.
Jamie loves his great grandmother Bubbie and, when she comes for a visit they go for a walk around the neighbourhood. On the way, they meet some friends and strangers. In her references to or about the people, Bubbie often uses an inappropriate pronoun. Jamie gently explains why the pronoun is inappropriate and what she could use instead.
What I like about this book
Jamie and Bubbie is a book for our times, and a necessary one. It not only educates us adults about the appropriate use of people’s pronouns, it helps us explain them to children in simple language and easy-to-understand ways. I like Jamie’s gentle and tactful approach, and also that it is the child who does the explaining to great grandma in the book.
However, even more than that, I like the notes for teachers, parents and caregivers in the back of the book. The notes explain the importance of using the names and pronouns that individuals choose to use about themselves. They include suggestions for finding out those pronouns and what to use if you don’t know them. Advice for discussing pronouns with children is also provided as are suggested sources of further information.
I think the information provided in this book is important for all of us to know.
Teachers around Australia are already thinking about how they will organise their classrooms to maximise learning when the new school year begins at the end of January. They are as excited as the children with hopes and expectations of a successful and enjoyable school year.
To ensure a rewarding year, it is important to begin with a clear idea of what you want to achieve and the steps that will contribute to success. It is useful to keep in mind that one of the most significant contributors to children’s learning is the classroom environment, especially the relationship with the teacher. A supportive classroom environment that welcomes students and their families is essential so that children have a sense both of belonging and ownership.
Rita Pierson makes this quite clear in her TED Talk Every kid needs a champion.
Here at readilearn, our focus is on supporting teachers with lessons that are ready for them to teach rather than on worksheets for children to complete. We recognise the beneficial role of discussions that involve both teachers and students sharing ideas. We also assist teachers to establish a welcoming and supportive classroom environment.
The refrain ‘We’re all in this together’ echoed around the world in 2020 as we came to grips with the changes that living with a pandemic brought. Teaching online and children learning at home required major adjustments to programs and how they were delivered. Many started talking of the ‘new normal’ while most hoped that 2021 would bring a return to the old familiar ‘normal’. While it may eventually, it is still too soon to get overly comfortable.
Throughout 2020, many were finding creative ways of dealing with the restrictions, lockdowns and changing expectations. Others were using their creativity to help others cope. One of these creatives is Skye Hughes whose beautiful picture book We’re All in This Together illustrates how the changes were shared by many and provides opportunities for discussions between teachers, parents and children that help reduce anxieties and foster empathy.
About Skye Hughes
Skye Hughes was born in Adelaide but spent much of her childhood travelling around Australia in a caravan with her three younger siblings and parents. She is a school teacher, youth program facilitator and big fan of Nutella donuts. Skye currently lives in Melbourne and when she isn’t writing children’s books, looking after her house plants or teaching young people, you will find her travelling the globe and connecting with people from all walks of life. It is these connections that inspire her to keep growing, learning and creating beautiful memories.
About the picture book We’re All in this Together
School friends – Kiana, Amin, Roshan, Casey, Ming, and Tyler all have one thing in common — they can’t go to school. The world changed very quickly and now they have to stay home to keep themselves and their families and friends safe. They discover that even apart, they can find new and fun ways to be together. At a time when the world looks a little different, this encouraging story promises young readers an opportunity to reflect on their own experience of this unique moment in history while promoting resilience and unity.
I wish all my wonderful readilearn readers and supporters a happy and healthy 2021. I think most of us are ready to welcome in the new year with its promise of better things to come. I thank you all for you support throughout 2020 and look forward to what 2021 has to offer.
I am excited that 2021 is both the International Year of Peace and Trust and the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables. I am hoping that it fulfils the expectation of a peaceful year in which trust in each other becomes the norm and a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables becomes available for every one of us.
During the week, I uploaded some new calendars and calendar bookmarks to celebrate both themes of the coming year:
This is a wonderful opportunity to help everyone get to know a little more about each other, or it would be if we were sharing actual, as opposed to fictional, traditions, which some might of course.
I think learning about each other’s traditions is a valuable way to get to know each other, to expand our knowledge of the world’s people and develop understanding and empathy. It was for this reason that I created several resources for the readilearn collection that help children get to know each other.
One of the main resources for this purposes is a unit of work called Family Traditions and Celebrations. It includes worksheets and surveys to help children learn about the traditions of their own family as well as of other families.
When I was implementing this unit in my classroom, I was surprised that third and fourth generation Aussies thought they didn’t have any traditions to write about, that theirs were nothing out of the ordinary. That changed when I explained that every family has its own traditions and its own way of interpreting the traditions of the wider community. Sometimes, those traditions are secret.
I recently watched a video in which Australia’s popular Coronavirus medical spokesperson explained his family’s secret tradition of Christmas celebrations when growing up Jewish in Scotland. It’s an interesting story, particularly when his family discovered they weren’t the only ones with a secret.
Sadly, I can’t find a way of sharing the video here, but it can be viewed on Facebook.
And if you’d like to know a little more about the man, you may enjoy this interview.
Some traditions may be passed down through generations. Other traditions may change, be abandoned or introduced as families change, combine and grow.
When my children were growing up, we had a quiet Christmas day at home with only us. We would just hang out together (I can’t say ‘chill’ when we sweltered on most Christmas Days), eating and playing board games. We would visit with family and friends on other days, but not on Christmas Day.
This tradition continued when they grew into adulthood and even when they brought partners to share our day. The tradition was interrupted when the grandchildren arrived, and they required a different sort of attention and were too young to play the games. They are now old enough to play so the tradition is re-established.
However, our celebration has now changed from Christmas Day to Christmas Eve (for this year anyway) to accommodate the needs of other families (in-laws) and the grandchildren have decided we need a new tradition.
Last Christmas Eve we celebrated here with both our children, their partners and our two grandchildren. We had a Christmas lunch and an afternoon of playing board games and having fun in the pool. After tea (the evening meal), we opened our gifts. And then the fun began — a wrapping paper fight. Perhaps I should say here that the fight was initiated by Hub, perhaps the biggest child of them all. Everyone scrunched up balls of wrapping paper and threw them at each other. The children thought it was amazing fun and they want to do it again this year. And why not? It won’t elicit the same feelings as the lovely tradition shown in the following video, but it’s a great indication of our family that loves to have fun together.
I think the only one who wasn’t so keen on the activity was the housekeeper who was still finding balls of wrapping paper behind and under furniture six months later. Perhaps she should have done a better job earlier on! 😊
Thanks to Jim Borden for alerting me to this wonderful video.
So, now it’s time to share my response to Charli’s prompt. I hope you enjoy it.
Out with the Old. In with the New.
Lizzie pressed her lips together and shook her head.
“Come on,” said Mum. “Just a little bit.”
“Try it. You’ll like it.”
“You can’t have dessert, until you eat your veg.”
“Dessert first. Then veg.”
“We don’t do it that way, Lizzie. Veg first, then dessert.”
“No! Dessert first!”
“If you have dessert first, you won’t eat your veg.”
Lizzie ate her dessert. Then she ate her veg. A promise is a promise.
Now, when Lizzie’s children’s friends ask why they always eat dessert first, they shrug. “Dunno. Always have,” they say.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.
Here it is December already, the final month in a year unlike any other. We can only hope that things improve as we leave this one behind and step into the new year. But for now, I have some December days and events you may wish to celebrate with your children whether at home or at school.
Eat a Red Apple Day on 1 December is the perfect time to remind ourselves to eat healthy food, particularly as the party season is just beginning. It is also the perfect time to thank teachers for all the hard work they have done during the year.
International Day of People with Disabilityon 3 December aims to develop an understanding of disability, promote respectful ways of relating to those with a disability, and create an awareness of the benefits of an inclusive society that takes the needs of people with a disability into consideration. “Disability Day is not concerned exclusively with either mental or physical disabilities, but rather encompasses all known disabilities, from Autism to Down Syndrome to Multiple Sclerosis.”
When shopping recently, I was reminded of how difficult it can be for some to carry out everyday tasks that most of us take for granted, and how far we have yet to go to be fully inclusive.
December is packed with excitement for children in Australia. It marks the end of the school year and the beginning of the long summer, often called ‘Christmas’, holidays and, of course, Christmas itself.
Once final assessments for the year are done, it can be difficult keeping children focused on learning when their thoughts are turning to imminent adventures.
However, it needn’t be so, and here at readilearn we have a variety of lessons that keep the children learning while having some Christmas fun.
For me, the real meaning of Christmas is being kind and generous in spirit. But of course, those values are not confined to Christmas and hopefully children have been developing their friendship skills and ability to get along throughout the year. Maybe you’ve used some of the readilearn friendship skills lessons to support their development.
Who celebrates Christmas?
Before you dive into Christmas activities, a survey will help you find out which children in the class do and do not celebrate Christmas. While you will already have an idea of which children do, it can be an interesting way to begin the discussion of different cultural traditions celebrated by children in your class.
The main ingredient in any of these discussions should always be respect, and it is important to find ways of making classroom activities inclusive. A generosity of spirit develops when we see that what we share is more important than the ways in which we differ. Learning about each other is an important way of developing understanding.