Tag Archives: Children

Change is Coming #99WordStories

When I read Charli’s prompt at the Carrot Ranch this week to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to reflect the theme, “ready for a change.” Who is ready and why? How does the change unfold? What happened to initiate the change? Go where the prompt leads! I immediately thought of this Cat Stevens song.

As a young adult, I loved Cat Stevens’s songs and their messages of hope for better days. As an older adult, I still do. We could certainly do with some changes around the world at the moment.

I was lucky to see Cat Stevens in concert in 1972, which must have been about the same time as this video was recorded. It was amazing. So much wisdom. Sadly, we don’t seem to be any closer to the vision of these lyrics 50 years later.

‘Don’t you feel the day is coming

And it won’t be too soon

When the people of the world

Can all live in one room’

It took me a while to get past the Cat Stevens musical memory lane, but this is where I ended up. I hope you like it.

Change is coming

‘Get up,’ Pauline whispered.

He rubbed his eyes. ‘Why?’

‘Shh! He’s here.’

He trembled. ‘Take Rabbit?’

Out they crept, sliding against the wall to the door. A shout from downstairs. They froze. Pauline turned the knob. Quietly. Quietly. She pushed the door. Gently. Gently. Then cool air. Silent toes pattered down the stairs. Across the grass they ran and ran. All three, hand-in-hand. Pauline in front. Rabbit behind.

Finally, they banged on a door. ‘Grandpa! Grandpa! He’s come.’

Grandpa was in the doorway, ushering them into Grandma’s arms, picking up the phone.

‘Hush,’ said Grandma. ‘Everything will be alright.’

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 Free Pie can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

Zipper Obsession #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about zippers. What are the zippers for? What challenges do they present to the story? Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you enjoy it.

Zipper Obsession

Jayden was obsessed with zippers almost from birth. The swish of a zipper always turned tears to laughter.

When a toddler, Jayden’s fascination with interlocking teeth equalled the zip-zip-swish. Zippered items were treasured more than any store-bought toys.

When grandparents visited, Jayden targeted Grandma’s handbag. Zip. Zip …

“Is that boy still obsessed with zippers?” said Grandpa. “Has he been tested yet?”

“It’s just a phase,” said Dad.

“Humph,” said Grandpa, opening his Gladstone bag. Swhooosh.

Jayden stopped. What was that?

Grandpa closed the bag. Blonk.

Swhooosh; blonk. Swhoosh; blonk.

Jayden abandoned Grandma’s bag for Grandpa’s.

Zipper phase zipped.

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 Anxiety can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

A Muddy Conclusion #flashfiction

Last week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story embraces the mud. What is the mud, real or metaphor? How does it transform a character or place? What happens? Go where the prompt leads!

Although Charli gave an extended time in which to respond, I wrote my story Mud Cake Recipe in the usually one-week allocation. Some of your lovely comments encouraged me to continue the story a little further, which I have done here.

I hope you like it.

A Muddy Conclusion

“It’s just mud. It’ll wash off.”

“But it’s everywhere. Those children are unruly. My children would never —”

“And where are your children now?”

“Hmpff!” said the neighbour, stomping home, muttering about impudence, inconsideration and downright rudeness. “You haven’t heard the last of this.”

“Come on,” said the mother. “Let’s get you and the fence cleaned up.”

With buckets, brushes and rags, the children washed the fence. When it was done, they turned on each other. “Bullseye! Got you!”  They tussled and tumbled. Laughter filled the air.

The neighbour glowered at the mud-covered children. “Well, I never,” she said.

Thank you blog post

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

Mud Cake Recipe #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story embraces the mud. What is the mud, real or metaphor? How does it transform a character or place? What happens? Go where the prompt leads!

As you probably already know, as an educator, I primarily write for and about children. Mud is perfect for young children. It has such a great texture for play and responds in so many ways when we squish it, splatter it, stomp it, throw it, roll in it. There is something enticing about getting wet and dirty, and children seem to find puddles and mud totally irresistible. I hope I’ve captured a little of that excitement in my flash.

Mud Cake Recipe

How to Make Mud Cake

Ingredients

A patch of loose soil

A generous supply of water from the sky, hose or bucket

Rays of sunlight

A sprinkle of imagination

A torrent of laughter

Utensils

Gumboots

Method

Add enough water to soak the soil. It must be wet, not moist.

Stomp until well-mixed with no visible remnants of dry soil.

Squish the mush by hand until the hands are completely encased.

Spread by hand the gooey mixture over face, hair and clothing until well covered.

Terrorise the neighbourhood.

Leave in place until dry in the sun and the mud cakes.

Thank you blog post

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

Rainbow Flotilla #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story uses the phrase, “across the water.” It can be any body of water distant or close. Who (or what) is crossing the water and why? Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you like it.

Rainbow Flotilla

She wrote a message on each piece of paper and folded them into tiny boats. At the lake, she launched them from the bank, then watched the rainbow flotilla sail across the water. Curious ducks investigated, capsizing one or two, but the rest sailed on. A turtle popped up, knocking one off-course. It smashed on the rocks, but the rest sailed on. A dragonfly alighted on one, enjoying the free ride as the rest sailed on, finally reaching the other side. A child fished one out and opened it to dry. He read the message, then smiled and waved.

Thank you blog post

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

Saddle Up Saloon; Chattin’ With Norah Colvin

I had a great chat with my fellow Ranch-hand, writer and educator, D. Avery over at the Saddle Up Saloon at the Carrot Ranch. We discussed my favourite topics – children, education and writing. Not your usual saloon fare, eh? A bit dry for Kid and Pal too.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

“Hey Kid. Kinda quiet ‘round the Saloon. Ain’tcha got anythin’ lined up?”

“Nope. But as ya kin see, Pal, there’s a few folks in jist relaxin’ an’ chattin’ over a bev’rage a choice.”

“Yeah, I see thet. Look there, is that Norah Colvin?”

“Yep. Says she’s waitin’ on a buddy a hers.”

“Reckon thet buddy is here. Why it’s—”

“D. Avery? Them two’s buddies? What a they have in common?”

“Well, they both know their way ‘roun’ the Ranch.”

“Reckon, but Norah Colvin’s respectable an’ all, an’ our writer’s so…”

“Jist serve ‘em both Kid an’ leave ‘em be.”

******************************************************************************

Hello Norah! I’m so glad we have a place where we can finally hang out together. But it seems Kid is wondering that we’re buddies.

Hello D.

Buddies! I like that. Buddies is not a term commonly used in Australia, so I think this is the first time I’ve ever…

View original post 1,774 more words

Unpacking the Greatest Gift - Comparatively Speaking

Unpacking the greatest gift — comparatively speaking

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - greatest gift

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the greatest gift. Answer it as if it were a question, or show what it could be. Go where the prompt leads you!

 

 

 

 

As usual, my mind jumps all over the place trying to find somewhere solid to land.

For example:

Do you remember learning the comparative and superlative at school?

great                    greater                 greatest

But what could be described as the greatest, indeed the greatest gift?

Muhammad Ali had no trouble in declaring that he was the greatest.

And ever since reading Charli’s post, I haven’t been able to get Whitney Houston out of my head.

According to liveaboutdotcom, Whitney Houston“has been cited by the Guinness Book of Records as the most awarded female performer of all time.” It appears that those awards were not enough. Perhaps had she been able to find that love, it would have been her greatest gift

Then there’s a chant I used to hear in the playground. A group of girls would gather and one would call out, “I am the greatest”. Others would respond, “No you’re not.” Then everyone would do a handstand. And so, it would repeat. I think whoever held the handstand the longest was entitled to call, “I am the greatest.” If only it were that easy.

I am the greatest - playground game

If one was to be the greatest at anything, would that be the greatest gift?

I’ve often said that a love of reading is one of the greatest gifts that a parent can give a child.

the love of reading is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child

It is one of the greatest gifts not only for the joy that reading can give, but even more because the ability to read is empowering. It enables one to fully participate in what societies have to offer, to navigate one’s way through our complex environments and seek knowledge for oneself.

If it is but one of the greatest gifts, what are the others, and is there one that is greatest of them all? Is it the gift of life? Of unconditional love? Of being accepted as you are? The most expensive car? The biggest house? The largest inheritance?

Was winning the World Heavyweight Championship the greatest gift for Muhammad Ali? The greatest number of awards wasn’t the greatest gift for Whitney Houston.

I think it’s too difficult to intellectualise. I’ve gone back to the concrete thinking of six-year-olds for my answer.

The Greatest Gift

The class was aflame with a mix of sadness and excitement.

“She’s is leaving.”

“She’s gunna have a baby.”

“I’m gunna bring her a gift.”

“I am too.”

On her final day, the children jostled to give first, hopeful she’d love their gift the best.

“Mine’s bigger than yours.”

“Mine’s better.”

“Mine’s the greatest.”

The children gloated and nudged each other as the teacher opened the gifts.

“How perfect.”

“This is great.”

“Thank you, everyone.”

Finally, Tommy edged forward. His hands were empty. He looked shyly into his teacher’s eyes and whispered, “I’ll miss you, Miss. You’re the best.”

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

Kathy Hoopman on teaching children with ASD in the classroom

readilearn: Teaching children with ASD — ideas for the classroom- with guest author Kathy Hoopmann

Do you have children with Asperger Syndrome in your classroom and wonder how best to cater to their needs? Do you have friends with Asperger Syndrome, or maybe have it yourself? This week’s guest Kathy Hoopmann has a wealth of suggestions to help you understand, appreciate and enjoy the complex syndrome that is known as ASD.

Combining her knowledge of Asperger Syndrome with her teaching background, Kathy has written over twenty books for children and adults.  She is best known for her photo-illustrated books that deal with Asperger Syndrome, ADHD and anxiety.  The simplicity, charm and insight of these books has made them must-haves for children and adults around the world.

Kathy has won and been shortlisted for many literary awards including the Children’s Book Council of Australia Award, and she has four times been awarded a silver Nautilus Award (US).  Her books have been translated into thirteen languages and sell widely in Australia, the UK, the US and the Middle East.

The books help children and adults with ASD recognise that they are not alone and provide support to carers, teachers and other professionals working with people with ASD.  In any home, school or classroom library Kathy’s books would help everyone learn to understand and support each other.

Welcome to readilearn, Kathy. Over to you.

The boy crawled under a table, his cap pulled low.  All eyes were on me to watch what I would do.  I was the relief teacher, or ‘light relief’ and the class was eager for a good show.  But I had been a relief teacher for too long to take the bait.  Besides, I recognised the behavior.  The boy displayed many characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder and frankly under the table was the very best place he could be, for his sake and mine. 

‘Miss?’ a child ventured, ‘Billy’s under the table and he’s wearing a hat indoors.’

Continue reading: readilearn: Teaching children with ASD — ideas for the classroom- with guest author Kathy Hoopmann – Readilearn

and be sure to check out the generous discount offered to readers during the month of July.

Peace in a pod

© Norah Colvin

Gardeners understand that effort is required to create a garden that provides the desired outcome. The same is true for raising children, with the adage “we reap what we sow” appropriate in both instances.

A school principal surmised once, after observing my interactions with children, that I must have a beautiful garden. But such was not so. The time that may have been spent nurturing plants, I turned instead to nurturing minds, including my own.

While the sowing is important, so too is the nurturing. Just as there is more to raising a seed than simply sowing one, there is more to raising a child than simply having one. The amount of care required depends on the stage of growth. How they are nurtured in the beginning stages sets the foundation for future growth and determines the harvest.

Susan Scott was thinking along similar lines when she wrote New Moon, Rosh Hoshanah and the Equinox for her Garden of Eden blog this week. She says,

“A good time to plant – seeds of whatever kind – love, patience, kindness, joy are a few that come to mind – anything that blossoms in receptive and fertile soil.”

The words resonate with me at any time, but especially this week when writing my response to the flash fiction prompt at the Carrot Ranch Literary Community. Charli Mills challenges writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what it is to gather a harvest.

With the International Day of Peace and its 2017 theme Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All falling just a few days ago on 21 September, it all seems very timely.

Jennie Fitzkee, a remarkable early childhood teacher who blogs at A Teacher’s Reflections, shared her, and her students’, thoughts  about peace on the International Day of Peace. Jennie is a wonderful role model for peace and is passionate about nurturing young children.  She says,

“peace is about the heart, thinking and doing the right thing. The little things are the most important of all, because they’re the foundation for the big things.  By teaching children’s heart they come to understand peace.”

In a previous post Plant the seeds of literacy, I included this excerpt from Jackie French’s 2015 Senior Australian of the Year Valedictory Speech:

“You never know what seeds you plant will grow; if they will keep growing; who will take them and tend them. But there is one thing I have learned in my 62 years: keep planting seeds.

Never think: I am 62 and still have not achieved world peace, universal tolerance and justice, or even an Australia where every single child is given the chance to learn to read.

Change is never fast enough for any person of goodwill.

A rain drop is just a rain drop. But together we are a flood.  Together we have changed the world.”

She concludes her speech with these words:

“Let us give our children role models who do not, will not despair, no matter how long it takes to change the world. And let us never surrender, no matter how tired we are, or how long it takes. Because with these weapons we shape the future of our planet.”

I also employed the garden analogy in a post entitled  The classroom garden.  Responding to Charli’s prompt to write about “fruit”, I included the word “harvest”.  Rather than simply repeat that story, which would be pleasingly easy but teach me little, I’ve gone in a different direction this time.

In her post, Charli talks about harvesting peas; peas in a pod. It doesn’t take much imagination to turn this into “Peace in a pod.”

Wouldn’t that be wonderful, to plant a seed of peace with “respect, safety, and dignity for all”; “love, patience, kindness, joy”; and “universal tolerance and justice”; nurture it, watch it grow, and then harvest the bountiful rewards. It’s not only the role of teachers and parents, it’s the responsibility of society at large.

Here’s my story. I hope you like it:

Peace in a pod

“The Peace Prize goes to …”

The applause was deafening. It took minutes to realise it was their life’s work being recognised. Who’d have thought? Against a long-range solar-powered superstealth aircraft with adaptive camouflage, how would a peace capsule stand a chance? They stumbled to the stage, minds a-tumble with words, phrases, and blank spaces. In their years of preparation, of tweaking combinations of ingredients, they’d never prepared for this. The standing ovation relieved them of the necessity, drowning each word. Finally, peace pods were ready for harvest and distribution. With mass inoculation, peace was now a real possibility.

 

After writing the story, I realised that such a pill may not be the panacea I was initially contemplating. Any pill that controls the thoughts and behaviour of the masses could be just as easily used for evil as for good. I may have to send those two back to the lab for further tweaking.

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

I love poems – Readilearn

I love poems. Children do too. Poetry is a great way of introducing children to the joy of language, as well as to features such as rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, similes and metaphors. What is taught through poetry can be as simple or as complex as required by the ages of the children or your teaching purpose.

One of the great benefits of teaching young children through poetry is the fun aspect. It’s enjoyable for teachers and students alike and, when children innovate on poems to create poems of their own, very motivating.

With St Valentine’s Day not far away it is timely to read and write love poems. One of my favourite poems for writing with young children is based on the traditional camping song I love the mountains. I was taught the poem by the amazing literacy educator Bill Martin Jr at a reading conference in the 1980s, and used it with every group of children I taught thereafter. I have previously written about that on my other blog here.

The repetitive structure and easy melody invites children to join in and is easy for children to use in writing poems of their own, whether they are emergent, beginning, or advanced writers.  The poems can be completed using pictures or words.

This is one of my favourite versions of the song.

Continue reading: I love poems – Readilearn