Tag Archives: Early childhood education

Who’s on the move?

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills raised the subject of migration and challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a migration story.

Although Charli always provides suggestions, she also permits writers to go where the prompt leads, allowing their thoughts to migrate in whichever direction they choose. This is good for me as my thoughts always bring me back to early childhood education and, if I can somehow squeeze it in, butterflies.

Migration is a part of human history. We are told that humans originated in Africa, and that migration out of Africa began about 60 000 years ago (well, that’s one of the stories). That we are now spread across the world is no mean feat, particularly when we acknowledge that most of the migration occurred before the industrial age, long before steam ships and ocean liners, before motor cars and air travel.

But migration continues still, and our countries and cities become home to those whose lives began far away and who share different cultural traditions. The purpose of the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project is to discover more about our shared genetic heritage. In an early childhood classroom, we, too, can discover how much we have in common and learn to appreciate our differences.

Whoever you are.

Mem Fox’s beautiful book Whoever You Are is great for encouraging children to recognise, respect, and  appreciate each other, similarities and differences included.

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This year sees Mem publish another beautiful book I’m Australian Too which shows appreciation for everyone who is part of our wonderful multi-cultural Australia. (Follow the links to both books and you can listen to her read them too!)

A number of readilearn resources support teachers in developing an appreciation for everyone’s heritage, including a history unit which helps children learn more about their own family history and traditions, and the histories and traditions of their classmates’ families.

Just as amazing as stories of human migration, are those of animal migration. I was surprised when I first heard of the migration of monarch butterflies from Canada to Mexico in the autumn, and back again in spring, a distance of over 4800 miles or almost 8000 kilometres. What a long flight for a butterfly, I thought, the poor butterfly’s wings must be ragged by the end of the journey. But the round trip involves at least four generations.

And although monarch butterflies are native to North America, they are now part of the Australian landscape, having arrived, possibly during the gold rushes of the mid-1800s.

Even longer, twice as long in fact, than the monarch’s migratory flight, is that of a dragonfly which, also over four generations, makes a complete circuit of the Indian Ocean – almost 1000 miles or about 16 000 kilometres. The story of how this tiny insect’s epic journey was discovered is fascinating. Who knows what one may discover when wonder is mixed with observation.

There’s obviously plenty of diversity from which to draw inspiration for a migration story. I’ve chosen to write a story set a little bit closer to home. I hope you like it.

Please pop over to Charli’s post to see where the prompt has taken other writers.

Adventurous plans

His bag was packed. He was ready. He stopped at the door for one last look, then stepped outside, pulling it closed behind him. At that moment, he was certain; he would never return. There was nothing for him here. Exotic places and untold adventures awaited. At the stop, he hailed a bus and climbed aboard. “Where are you off to?” asked the driver. “I’m on an adventure,” he said, tendering a fistful of plastic coins. “But only if you take me with you,” said his out-of-breath mother, smiling. “Okay,” he said. The driver winked as she climbed aboard.

Thank you

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

P.S. I’m excited to announce the launch of a new app for beginning readers created by my son, Robert. If you know anyone with young children who may be interested, please let them know about Word Zoo, available now in the App Store.

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Developing an “I can do it!” attitude – Readilearn

 

Developing a positive attitude to learning and an “I can do it!” attitude in young children is important. Children need to be willing to take a risk, to have a go, to try something new. They also need to realise that, if they can’t do it yet, it’s not the end of the world. If they try again, practise, and show persistence, one day they’ll be able to achieve many of the things they want. Giving up doesn’t achieve anything.

That little word “yet” is very important for children, and adults, to understand. It helps them see that learning is a process, not just a product. Learning is something that continues throughout life.  If we want to develop life-long learners, it is important to view learning as a continuum. Every stage is important in and of itself, not just as a stepping stone to the next. If children are acknowledged for what they can do, they will be more willing to have a go at things they haven’t yet.

Developing confident children is at the heart of a supportive classroom environment.

An “I can do it!” attitude consists of three main parts:

Continue reading on: Developing an “I can do it!” attitude – Readilearn

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

Reading across the curriculum – Readilearn

The importance of reading cannot be overstated. It is an essential skill, integral to almost everything we do. Teaching children to read is one of the most important, and most rewarding, aspects of our role as early childhood educators.

Some children come to school already reading. Others come not yet reading, but with a love of books and an expectation that they will learn to read. They understand that reading involves making sense of the squiggles on the page. These children usually learn to read effortlessly regardless of what we do.

Other children come to school with little experience of books and reading. For them, learning to read is a mystery and a greater challenge. For these children especially, it is important that we provide an environment rich in language and book experiences. We need to excite them about books and reading, interest them in words and language, and show them that books can be both a source of enjoyment and information.

I often hear teachers lament that there’s just not enough time in the crowded curriculum to read to children any more. But reading aloud to children, especially early childhood children, should be non-negotiable and a priority every day. How can we excite them about books, and interest them in reading, if we don’t read to them?

It is impossible to turn children onto books in one isolated reading lesson each day. In fact, reading lessons as such probably don’t turn children onto reading at all. That is not their purpose. Their purpose is to teach skills. But those skills should always be taught in context, and never in isolation. Nor should they be confined to lessons timetabled for English. Reading must occur across the curriculum and for a multitude of purposes throughout the day, from noting who is at school, interpreting the job roster and group allocations, to understanding connected text in various subject areas.

Many readilearn resources are designed to provide children with opportunities for reading across the curriculum. Even those designed specifically to develop reading skills have application in other subject areas.

Continue reading at: Reading across the curriculum – Readilearn

Counting one hundred days of school – Readilearn

With the commencement of the Australian school year still two weeks away, it might seem a bit early to be thinking about the 100th day. Let me assure you it’s not. It’s great to be ready to start counting from day one. However, if you miss the start, you can always go back and count the days on a calendar. For those of you in the US and UK, the one hundredth day will be coming up soon in February.

In Australia there are 200 school days in a year. So, once you have counted up to 100 days, you are half way through and can then count down the number of days remaining. The US and UK have fewer school days: 180 in the US and 190 in the UK; so they are more than half-way through by the time they reach their 100th days.

Whatever their year level, children are always excited to count the days to this milestone, and it provides wonderful opportunities for learning about number.

Several readilearn resources support you and your students as you count up to and celebrate one hundred days, including:

The interactive digital resource Busy Bees 100 chart is great for all your usual number board activities, and can be used to keep a count of how many days you’ve been at school. Simply display the resource at the beginning of each day and move the bee to the next number.

Just this week, I have uploaded a short video explaining how to use the resource. I am also including it here. I’d love to know what you think.

Click to continue reading: Counting one hundred days of school – Readilearn

Getting to know you – Readilearn

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The beginning of the year is a great time for getting to know each other. Children will feel comfortable and friendly towards each other in a welcoming classroom environment that values and respects individuals; and in which appreciation for our diversity, as well as our commonality, is nurtured.

When children feel safe to be who they are, they are more accepting of others.

While it is important to establish a welcoming environment at the beginning of the school year, it is equally important to maintain the supportive environment throughout the year. It is not something we do to pretty the room and then forget about it. It is a part of who we are, and comes from a firm belief in the value of each individual, of community, of humanity, and of our world.

Source: Getting to know you – Readilearn

Take a gander at this – #early childhood teaching resources

 

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This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write using the word gander as a verb.

Gander, the verb, means to look. Since a gander, a male goose, has a long neck which is, without doubt, suitable for sticking out and into things, the meaning to take a look is probably apt. However, I must say that, until reading Charli’s flash pieces, I was unfamiliar with its use as a verb, and still feel a bit uncomfortable in using it so, but I’ll give it a go – later.

First: What I would love is for people to take a gander at readilearn, a website I have been working on for more years that I care to tally right now.

It is a year since I took the leap and engaged a company to develop the site. It was nine months (not the one month promised) before the site was launched, just over three months ago. To use the nine months analogy of pregnancy; it wasn’t an easy gestation or birth, and we’re still experiencing teething problems and growing pains, including “how to grow?” pains.

Audience wanted

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Marketing, as in attracting, building, and maintaining an audience, is difficult, as any writer knows. It is not just a matter of writing the stuff and hoping an audience finds it. It takes time, effort, and know-how. I’m a bit short on all three, but I’m going to stick my neck out, and ask if you’d be willing to help me a little with the know-how in finding my target audience.

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readilearn is a collection early childhood teaching resources. The target audience is teachers of children between 5 and 7 years of age, be they teaching in a school environment, or homeschooling their children. The resources are also suitable or use with children learning English as a second or other language, and with children with special needs.

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There are resources for most areas of the curriculum, with suggestions for integrating learning across curriculum areas in a meaningful context.

The materials are Australian (I’m Australian) but are suitable for use internationally.

There are:

  • Digital and interactive resources to access and use online
  • Word and PDF documents to download and print

Including:

  • Original stories
  • estories (digital stories)
  • Teaching ideas and suggestions
  • Lessons plans
  • Readilessons (lessons ready to use)
  • Games
  • Printouts for parents

Features

  • New resources are added almost every week
  • Many resources are free to registered users
  • An annual subscription of less than 50c per week (or less than the cost of 5 cups of coffee a year!) is easily affordable; and that’s Australian dollars – even less for UK and US subscribers! It’s even discounted until the end of 2016!

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So what’s different?

I think that what differentiates readilearn is the integrated resources focusing on purposeful learning in context. The open-ended nature of many of interactive resources allows teachers to adjust the discussion to suit the needs of their students. readilearn is not just bunch of worksheets for repetitive practice of skills in isolation, or endless pretty charts to hang in the room. It is designed to support effective teaching and learning in meaningful contexts.

More than just resources

  • Each Friday I publish a blog post filled with teaching ideas and information, including how to get the most from readilearn resources.
  • I also email users each Friday to inform them of new resources uploaded during the week – no more wondering if there’s anything new or where to find it.
  • The newsletter, published on the last day of each month, includes a summary of blog posts, a list of new resources, and a preview of events in the coming month.

I would very much appreciate it if you could spread the word to any of my target audience in your circles: teachers of children from 5 – 7 years. I’d also love some suggestions for ways of connecting with my audience. Although my audience may differ from yours, what you have learned may also be useful for me.

Maybe you’d like to gift an early childhood teacher their first year’s subscription. It’s easy. Just email hello@readilearn.com.au to find out how.

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Now back to Charli’s challenge to include gander as a verb in a 99-word story. It got me thinking about all the bird words in common use, even when not referring to birds. I decided to incorporate as many as I could into a story while still maintaining a certain amount of sense. I have used over twenty. Can you (bird)spot them all? I hope you think it’s grouse! (Well, maybe just a little bit not too bad. 🙂 )

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Bird (non)sense

Finch’d had an eagle eye on the play all day.

Robin’d been hawking chicken pies. Now sold out, he wandered over to gander with Finch.

Robin craned his neck, just as “He’s out for a duck!” was announced.

“He’s out for a duck,” he parroted. “That’s something to crow about.”  One team was swanning around, exuberant as monarchs. The other was as despondent as miners on strike.

Martin was larking around. “Yeah,” he sniped. “The silly goose was distracted by the kite and missed altogether.”

“More like a turkey, I’d say,” Robin reterned swiftly.

“You’re a hoot!” chirped Finch.

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