Bones #99Word Stories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about bones. It can be any genre or tone. Is it spooky, irreverant, poignant? Go where the prompt leads!

All I could think of at first was the children’s song, ‘The head bone’s connected to the neck bone …’ and it took me a while to come up with an idea. Once I got an idea, the ending eluded me. I finally decided to go all-out horror, which is unusual for me, to follow up my entry Beware or Be Scared in the Halloweensie Contest run by Susanna Leonard Hill. That entry was meant to be as Halloween humorous as it was scary. I hope it succeeded. On its own, this one may lack the humour. I hope you ‘enjoy’ it anyway.

Make No Bones About It

“Go and get changed.”

 “But, Muuuum —”

“You will not go to the party dressed like that.”

“Why?”

“It’s not appropriate.”

“But it’s dress up. It’s Halloween!”

“Yes! A skeleton or a ghost. Not a princess. Princesses don’t do Halloween.”

“If I can’t be a princess, I’m not —” The door slammed to punctuate her sentence perfectly.

Mum shook her head. She was teased enough, without being a princess on Halloween.

The following morning, when bones found in the middle of a mystery sticky stinky sludge were identified as her bullies, Margie and Mum gave thanks for their disagreement.

Thank you blog post

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Beware or Be Scared — a Halloweensie story

Susanna Leonard Hill is hosting the 12th Halloweensie Contest and entries close on Monday 31 October. You may still have time to enter. All you have to do is write a 100-word Halloween-themed story for children up to 12 and include the words slither, treat and scare. Easy right? Pop over to Susanna’s amazing blog for all the rules, and join in if you dare. There are some pretty amazing prizes.

You will be able to read all the entries in the comments section of the Official Contest Post after the weekend. By next weekend, Susanna hopes to have narrowed the field down to about twelve stories for readers to vote on. What a mammoth task.

Since I’ve been practising writing brief stories in the Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenges, I thought I’d have a go at this one too and, I guess not surprisingly, I’ve done it in 99 words (you’re allowed to go under, but not over, 100 words). While my flash fiction stories often feature children, this one had to be for children. I hope I didn’t make it too scary, but I aimed it at the older, rather than younger, age group, who I hope may ‘get’ some of the nuances with word choice and punctuation. I hope you enjoy it. You are forewarned.

Beware or be Scared

Nathara expected her ginormous jelly Poisonous Pythons, individually sealed for hygiene safety, to make the children’s eyes POP! And they did. Laced, through the fence the treats were irresistible. Children ignored the “BEWARE” sign. They failed to read the small print “Open only after midnight.” They didn’t flinch when Nathara laughed, “Mwahahaha!” and found no reason to be scared when she hissed, “Enjoy eating children!” They couldn’t wait to tuck into the squishy, sweet, stickiness of the enormous Poisonous Pythons and ripped the seals apart. Nathara’s slippery servants slithered free and wrapped the trick-or-treaters in their squishy sweet stickiness.

For a follow up to this story, check out my response to this week’s Carrot Ranch prompt ‘bones’, Make No Bones About It.

Thank you blog post

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Say ‘thank you’ to a teacher on World Teachers’ Day 2022 – #readilearn

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.

Enjoy!

Continue reading: Say ‘thank you’ to a teacher on World Teachers’ Day 2022 – readilearn

I See the Light in You #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that references “I see the light in you.” You can use the phrase or demonstrate it in a story. Who is shining and why? Who is observing or reacting? What is the setting? Go where the prompt leads!

In the post, Charli explained the prompt as being inspired by ‘the beautiful Ojibwe greeting of “aanii.” It means, “I see the light in you.”’ Charli suggested it was a great way to greet people, to see their light and avoid judging them. I imagined it as a saying shared by a family over generations. This is a different response from my recent playful  ones. I hope it works, nonetheless.

Gran’s Inside Light

Jamie squeezed his hands and clenched his knees, as if that might still his churning belly and stop his heavy heart from falling. Like recycled paper, his thoughts were all mushed up. They said Gran was sick. She mightn’t get better. What did that even mean? Gloom dragged his face into a frown.

“You can see her now,” said Mum. Jamie looked up, questioning. Mum simply nodded. Jamie tentative step-by-stepped, hopeful, fearful, step-by-step.

“Gran?” he whispered. Dull eyes flickered. This isn’t Gran. Gran’s eyes sparkled.

Jamie trembled. “Where’s Gran’s inside light?” Mum hugged him. “In you and everywhere now.”

I missed responding to Charli’s previous prompt due to lack of time and imagination. However, I decided to write a sequel to Gran’s Inside Light with that prompt in mind. The prompt was to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that expresses the idea, “for the water.” You can find inspiration in water protection movements. Is it a celebration or a dark dystopian warning? Consider your place and the bodies of water that have shaped you. Go where the prompt leads!

Gran’s Light

Jamie sniffled and wiped his face with his sleeve. He and Mum weren’t the only ones crying. Everyone at Gran’s graveside was crying. Even the umbrellas cried teardrops of rain that fell from darkened skies, as if the whole world was grieving his Gran. As the final words were spoken, the clouds parted to let the sun shine through and paint the biggest and brightest rainbow Jamie had ever seen. He squeezed his mother’s hand and pointed. “Look, Mum. There’s Gran’s light.” Everyone looked. Umbrellas were folded and smiles lit faces with joy remembering a life well-lived and loved.

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt For the Water can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Halloween-themed Lessons for K–2 Classrooms – #readilearn

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 — a game for Halloween

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.

Find out more about the game here.

How Many Treats?

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.

Who Has More?

Who Has More? is an interactive Halloween-themed lesson in comparing numbers to ten.

The lesson provides practice in the following number concepts:

  • estimation
  • subitisation
  • counting
  • comparison
  • using the terms ‘more’ and ‘less’
  • addition
  • subtraction

A follow-up worksheet for independent practice can be accessed from within the resource.

Continue reading: Halloween-themed Lessons for K–2 Classrooms – readilearn

Thinking Tools – facilitating deeper discussion in the Early Years – #readilearn

Article by Gerard Alford, Director of itc publications and thinkdrive and collaborator on readilearn.

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).

Continue reading: Thinking Tools – facilitating deeper discussion in the Early Years – readilearn

A Ritual Involving Tea #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to in 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about any ritual involving tea. It can be a daily afternoon tea prepared specifically or the reading of tea leaves in a cup. What do you know? What do you imagine? Is your story deep and ponderous or bright and flash? Go where the prompt leads!

As a child, I enjoyed playing with my tea sets. It was fun lining up my toys and having tea parties. I remember two tea sets from my childhood. One was a pretty little floral set made of china. The other was red and white plastic.

I remember sitting on the back steps one day when I was about three, washing my china cups and saucers. Perhaps I was getting ready for a tea party or cleaning up after one. I’m not sure. But while I was sitting there, busily at my work, Dad came out and didn’t see my pretty little cups and stood right on them, smashing them into little pieces. He was very apologetic and, surprisingly, I was very forgiving. He would tell the story many times later about how I’d looked up at him and said, “It’s okay, Dad. You didn’t mean to.” I think the adult me could learn a lot about forgiveness from the little me.

As an adult, I consider a very special treat to be a high tea with its cucumber and smoked salmon finger sandwiches, fresh baked scones with jam and cream, and a selection of petit fours. I have enjoyed a number of these over the years, usually in very special locations for very special occasions.

I remember having one with my mum and other family members to celebrate her 90th birthday at a restaurant she had enjoyed going to with her mother when she was growing up. It was definitely a special treat and an occasion to remember.

I’ve allowed some of these ‘special’ thoughts to influence my response to Charli’s prompt as I add another event to Amy and Lucy’s imaginative play. I hope you enjoy it.

The Tea Party

Ollie said the table looked divine. Teddy agreed, adding the fairy cakes were the prettiest and sweetest he’d ever tasted, and the tea was the perfect temperature. Amy and Lucy beamed. The tea party to welcome the happy couple home from their honeymoon was a success. Everyone was there. It was all going swimmingly, until a balloon popped. Ellie started, upsetting the teapot with her flailing trunk and whipping the cakes from their stand. Monkey screeched. Bunny watched tea puddle under the table.

“I’ve ruined the party,” wailed Ellie.

“It’s okay, Ellie,” said Lucy. “No one’s hurt. Nothing’s broken.”

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Broken Arm, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Teaching thinking in the early years with itc thinkdrive – #readilearn

Today I am pleased to announce a new collaboration with itc thinkdrive. While we have been working in partnership since 2019, starting from next week, Gerard Alford, Director of itc thinkdrive, will contribute an occasional guest post to the readilearn blog.

While we are all aware of the importance of teaching critical and creative thinking and of providing opportunities for cooperative learning in the classroom, that teaching can sometimes be overpowered by the demands of content to be taught, tests to be administered, timetables to be followed, and ever-increasing standards to be achieved.  However, help is close at hand with the wonderful resources on thinkdrive, and Gerard will be able to show you just how easy it is in his guest posts.

About Gerard Alford

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. (For a more complete bio, click here.)

Needless to say, I am enormously excited that we will have the additional benefit of his expertise right here.

About thinkdrive

Although I told you about thinkdrive in the post Teaching critical and creative thinking and cooperative learning in the classroom, it was a while ago. So, before I published Gerard’s first guest post, I wanted to remind you about thinkdrive and recommend you take a look, if you haven’t already.

thinkdrive is an online resource for teachers with a focus on critical and creative thinking and cooperative learning. It is a collection of thousands of downloadable worksheets and templates that are designed to support your teaching of these important skills and save you hours of preparation time.

With its focus on cognitive verbs and ways of thinking about things, thinkdrive differs from many other resources available for teachers. The strategies and thinking tools are clearly explained with examples and video demonstrations that make it easy for you to implement or adjust to suit your own lessons. The tools can be applied to any content you are teaching and embedded in your lesson planning.

Each of the 60 cognitive verbs; for example, compare, contrast, calculate, explain, describe, is matched to appropriate thinking tools. The use of each thinking tool is explained with examples, templates or sentence starters.  With more than thirty thinking tools in the kit, there are plenty to choose from; including, KWHL Charts. T-Charts, Y-Charts, Concept Maps, Flow Charts, and Bubble Maps. Most of the thinking tools are used effectively by students in small groups or pairs, though some can involve whole class thinking and discussion.

Other resources from itc publications

In addition to the online resource thinkdrive, itc publications have a range of other resources to support your teaching. You can find the full list of products here.

One of my favourites, that I wouldn’t be without, is the innovative teacher’s companion Early Years edition (F–2), also known as the Early Years Diary. It is available for all year levels.

This video gives you a great overview of just how useful it is.

Continue reading: Teaching thinking in the early years with itc thinkdrive – readilearn

Broken Arm #99WordStories

Broken Arm

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a broken arm. What happened? Is there a cause and effect because of the broken arm? Was the injury faked? Why? Go where the prompt leads!

I’m pleased to say that I’ve never had a broken bone. I hope that continues to be true for the rest of my days. Breaks can become more frequent as we age. So far as I know, neither parent had a broken arm, though my brother did when he was five (a big boy fell on him) and my daughter did when she was eleven (an accident at gymnastics caused by a younger child). So, with no personal experience, I’ve stayed with Amy and Lucy and their imaginative play. It’s wet outside, so they’re playing indoors – no red convertible this time.

Teddy’s Broken Arm

The waiting room was crowded. As usual, Doctor Amy was running late.

Nurse Lucy looked at the list. “Teddy!” she called.

Teddy was hugging his arm, trying to stifle tears.

“What appears to be the problem?” asked Doctor Amy, looking over her glasses.

“I think my arm’s broken.”

“Nurse Lucy, we need an x-ray,” said Doctor Amy.

The x-ray agreed with Teddy. Doctor and nurse plastered his arm with plasticene and tied it in a handkerchief sling.

“Lunch time,” said Mum. “Oh, what’s wrong with Teddy?”

“He’s got a broken arm,” said Amy.

“Just a fake one,” said Lucy.

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Mud on the Tires, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

The Rabbit’s Magician by Shae Millward and Andy Fackrell – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to review a beautiful new picture book The Rabbit’s Magician, written by Shae Millwood, illustrated by Andy Fackrell and published by Ford Street Publishing. This post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.

About the author Shae Millward

Shae Millward is an enthusiastic advocate for literacy. She aims to inspire through a love of books, the joy of reading and writing, and the art of storytelling. Shae enjoys writing picture books, poetry, song lyrics, inspirational quotes, short stories and more. Shae’s other books include A Boy and a Dog and Koalas Like To…

About illustrator Andy Fackrell

Andy Fackrell is one of the most awarded and recognised multi-dimensional creatives in the world. A career in advertising earned him the highest honours, including the Cannes Grand Prix in film for his work for Nike. A true creative nomad, living and working in all continents — Antarctica excepted — he is now a film maker exploring documentaries on social and environmental issues. Andy lives by the beach in Sydney. This is his second book.

About The Rabbit’s Magician

The Rabbit’s Magician is a gentle story of love, loss and comfort for 3 to 8 years olds.

The blurb

Ziggy’s beloved magician has performed an amazing disappearing trick. But just where is The Amazing Albertino? Ziggy waits. And waits some more. Has something gone wrong with the trick?

What I like about The Rabbit’s Magician

I was quite intrigued by the title of this book. We’ve all heard of the magician’s rabbit, right? But a rabbit’s magician — that was a different take. I wondered if it was to be the usual magic tale with the characters in reverse. It was not.

The cover shows a beautiful full moon, that looks as if it is being held up by the rabbit’s ears, and a magician holding up four rings. When we turn to the first story page, the rabbit is gazing at a crescent moon in a deep blue sky. He refuses an invitation to meet new friends because he is waiting. But waiting for what? For the full moon to appear again?

It takes another few invitations and another few phases of the moon before we find out; and that’s only because, when the moon is full in the sky, the owl asks Rabbit why he is waiting and offers to help. Rabbit accepts Owl’s offer.

I think there is a wonderful lesson in that already — if you see someone in need, ask, listen and offer to help.

Ziggy introduces himself and explains that he is the companion of an amazing magician Albertino, Alby, who can change things and make things disappear and reappear.

But now his magician has done a truly astonishing trick, something he has never done before. He has made himself disappear. Ziggy is worried that he may never reappear again.

This is where the real magic of the book begins because wise Owl knows what Ziggy and we don’t. Owl knows that the magician’s last trick was

Continue reading: The Rabbit’s Magician by Shae Millward and Andy Fackrell – readilearn