Tag Archives: Literacy

Easter lessons and activities for the first 3 years of school – #readilearn

Easter is almost upon us. It has snuck up on me this year and I’m a bit late sharing our Easter resources since most of you will be on holidays at the end of next week. However, there is still one week before the holidays, so you may still have time to use some of these lessons and activities. Enjoy!

All our Easter resources can be found in the Cultural Studies collection here. They include:

Interactive lessons ready to teach on the interactive whiteboard

Easter Delivery — a story that gives children practice in finding combinations of numbers to ten.

The Bilby twins, Benny and Belinda, are excited to be making their first deliveries for Easter. Before they do, they must prove to Dad that they are capable of leaving the correct number of eggs for each friend’s family. Children help Benny and Belinda by working out what combinations of eggs could be delivered to the families.

Dragona’s Lost Egg — a story that encourages the development of logical thinking and problem solving.

Dragona has lost her egg and turns to her friend Artie, owner of a Lost and Found store, for help. Artie is confident of helping her as he has many eggs on his shelves. He asks Dragona to describe features of her egg, including size, shape, pattern, and colour.  He uses a process of elimination to identify which egg might be Dragona’s. Children join in the process by choosing eggs with the characteristic described.

Continue reading: Easter lessons and activities for the first 3 years of school – #readilearn

A New Activity Book Just in Time for Christmas – #readilearn

In this post, I am sharing information about a new Christmas Activity Book I have recently complied and uploaded to the readilearn collection. It is a 30-page booklet with 20 different activities and is perfect for 5 ̶ 7 year-old children to use at home or in the classroom.

The book includes:

  • games to play alone
  • games to play with others
  • literacy activities
  • maths activities
  • word puzzles
  • number puzzles
  • logic puzzles
  • poems to write
  • and much more.

Some of the activities are already available as separate items in the readilearn collection, but not available together. More than half the activities are new. I decided to put them together in one book for ease of printing and distributing. You still have the option to print pages separately if you prefer, but you have access to all 20 activities in one document.

Continue reading: A New Activity Book Just in Time for Christmas – readilearn

Handouts for Parents to Support Children’s Learning – #readilearn

Here at readilearn we recognise that not all learning takes place in school. We know that learning can occur anywhere at any time and continues throughout life. It can be planned or incidental. It can be fun and joyful. It can even cause frustration at times. In fact, some frustration may encourage the learner to push further and try harder to find a solution. That is especially so when the frustration occurs in a purposeful activity in which the learner is engaged and feels a need to solve. Unsuccessful attempts don’t mean failure. They mean it’s time to try again. We see this in situations from a child learning to walk or ride a bike to scientists finding a cure for disease. What we most need to do to develop a love of learning is inspire curiosity and creativity and avoid ringbarking either through confinement.

As the end of the school year in Australia approaches, most teachers and parents are looking forward to the holidays as much as the students are. The last couple of years have been tough with changes to teaching and learning circumstances and the increased involvement of parents in monitoring their children’s school learning at home. While parents may have become more familiar with teaching methods used in the classroom, it is important for them to realise that learning can still occur during the holidays without the formality of classroom exercises.

The most important things parents can do for children, right from birth and through their developing years and beyond, is to talk with them, play with them and read to them — every day. The same can be said for teachers.

I previously shared this wonderful TEDtalk by 7-year-old Molly Wright in a post about The Importance of the Early Years. But it is inspiring and watching it gives me joy and I thought watching it might also give you joy. It is definitely worth sharing with parents to encourage and affirm positive interactions with their children.

We also have some handouts of suggestions which you are welcome to copy and send home to parents. You can find them in the Classroom Management — For Parents collection. They are all free resources and suggest ways of increasing the learning in everyday situations, mostly by being aware of the opportunities that arise incidentally throughout the day.

21 suggestions for maintaining reading momentum during the holidays

25 ways to keep the children thinking mathematically during the holidays

Continue reading: Handouts for Parents to Support Children’s Learning – readilearn

You Can be a Writer by Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Who can be a writer? You can! – #readilearn

I always enjoyed writing with children — the entire process. We saw story potential everywhere and found inspiration in the things they said or did as well as in everyday occurrences and special events. It was great to wonder and consider the what ifs as we brainstormed and developed ideas and let our excitement pour out in words on the paper. Sharing our original stories with an appreciative audience gave purpose to the process and added to the enjoyment.

In this post, I share a delightful little book called You can be a writer written by author Teena Raffa-Mulligan that encourages and supports children as writers in similar ways. It is great for children to use at home or at school and would be a useful resource for parents or teachers as they foster their children’s interest in writing.

I previously introduced you to Teena when I interviewed her about her fun story for young readers The Apostrophe Posse.

Continue reading: Who can be a writer? You can! – Readilearn

Home with the Kids by Norah Colvin

Combat Boredom with Board Games

I was over at the Carrot Ranch last week, discussing the benefits of playing board games as a family with the children. Pop over there to see which games I suggest and add your own favourite board games in the comments.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Home with the Kids by Norah Colvin

One of the best ways to have fun while learning, or to learn while having fun, is by playing board games. Playing games together as a family helps to bond family relationships. Adjustments can be made to suit most numbers and ages and rules can be adapted to suit your purposes. While the main thing is to have fun together, there is a lot of learning going on too.

Social Skills

One of the greatest benefits of playing board games is the development of social skills.

Some of the social skills children learn include:

Getting along and taking turns

Playing fair — accept the roll (if dice are used) or draw (if cards are used) for example, and respond accordingly: don’t try to pretend it wasn’t a “proper” roll (e.g. dropped); or attempt to change the count by skipping or counting twice on a square.

Abiding by rules — all…

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keep the children engaged and learning with fun Easter activities

Keep children engaged and learning with fun Easter lessons and activities – #readilearn

Easter is coming in 2020 along with school holidays, school closures and lockdowns. While readilearn lessons and activities are designed with teachers of the first three years of school in mind, perhaps, in these challenging times, parents may also find them useful in supporting their children’s learning while they are out of school.

The collection now numbers over 400 resources and more than 70 of these are interactive lessons and stories. All resources can be accessed with a small annual subscription or purchased individually. Many of the resources are free.

While teachers would normally use the interactive lessons on the interactive whiteboard with the whole class or small group, parents access them on their home computers. Just as teachers would discuss the resources when using them with a class, so too, parents discuss them with their children as they work through them together. The most benefit for children comes from the discussion. They are not designed for children to use independently.

Lessons and activities with an Easter focus

Lessons and activities in the readilearn collection cover a range of topics and curriculum areas. However, the focus of this post is on those with an Easter theme and how they can be used to keep the children thinking and learning while having fun. (Note: All readilearn Easter-themed resources can be found here.)

Continue reading: Keep children engaged and learning with fun Easter lessons and activities – readilearn

On the road with the library cat flashfiction

On the road with the Library Cat #Flashfiction

My passion is education in general with a focus on the education of young children. The development of literacy is a major part of that. Much of one’s success in life depends upon being literate. Literacy is recognised by the United Nations as a basic human right. Anything that impedes a child’s ability to learn to read and write violates that right.

Being literate is not only empowering, it can be a source of joy and escape. A literate population requires access to books of all kinds so that readers can choose materials relevant to interests and purpose.

I fail to see any sense behind decisions to have school libraries without trained teacher-librarians, or indeed, to close school and public libraries. I was incredulous when I learned that new schools were opening without a library, let alone a teacher-librarian. In my opinion, the library should be the hub of the school.  I am happy to say I am not alone in that thought.

But the idea needs more support. Fortunately, there is at least one Australian politician who agrees.

As reported on the SCBWI blog, NSW Member of Parliament David Shoebridge says that “libraries should be the heart of every school and that investment in school libraries is essential!”

In the next sitting of Parliament, he is moving that “every public school student in NSW has access to a quality school library and a qualified teacher librarian.”

If only we could get all MPs in every state to support the same movement for all our children, in every state, in every school.

Last week I wrote a story about a library cat. It was well received so I decided to write another episode this week.

Carrot Ranch - Open Road

Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch made it easy for me with her challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the open road. Where will the trip lead? Who is going, and why? Follow the open road wherever it may lead! I hope you like it.

Looking for Love

Rainbow Cat clawed through the rubble. One by one she pulled out the survivors — Little Red Riding Hood, Little Miss Muffet, The Gingerbread Man; even Wolf who promised to behave.

“Where are we going?” squealed the Three Little Pigs as they piled onto the bus.

“Where children will love us, like before.”

For many, this was their first time beyond the covers of a book. As the bus roared down the open road, they peered through the windscreen and out the windows, dreaming up new adventures yet untold.

Spontaneously, they burst into a chorus of On the Road Again.

Thank you blog post

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

classroom Christmas lessons and activities

Classroom Christmas lessons and activities – reblogged from readilearn

It’s almost Christmas again and here in Australia we’re on the countdown to the end of the school year and our long summer holidays. Whether you’ll be enjoying a long break or a shorter break over the festive season, here at readilearn we’ve got many ready-to-teach lessons and activities to support your teaching in the lead-up to Christmas.

Get an early start with these lessons and activities

You will get most benefit from some activities if you begin them a few weeks before the finish of term.

Friendship Trees, one of readilearn’s most popular Christmas activities is best begun three to four weeks before school closes for Christmas. Children make their own friendship trees which are then placed on display in the classroom.

Each day children write anonymous messages of affirmation or friendship to each other and place them in the trees. At the end of term, children take their trees home and read the positive messages contained within.

The trees help to develop self-esteem, confidence and friendship skills and are perfect for those last few weeks when temperatures soar and children can become edgy with excitement for the holidays.

A 3D Christmas tree makes a beautiful focal point of the classroom Christmas display. Children cooperatively construct the tree by contributing leaves made by tracing or printing their hands. It is a visible recognition of the value of teamwork and will be admired (and envied) by many. It makes a beautiful background for photographs of individual children to be given as gifts to parents or other loved ones.

Continue reading: Classroom Christmas lessons and activities – readilearn

School Days Reminiscences of Yvette Prior

School Days, Reminiscences of Yvette Prior

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Yvette Prior, a blogger and multi-talented friend. Yvette writes about a wide range of topics and in a variety of genres on her priorhouse blog. I always appreciate her different ways of looking at things and her positive views of the world. Do pop over to take a look. I’m sure you will enjoy it.

It’s probably best I allow Yvette to tell you a little of herself before we get started on the interview:

Yvette Prior is a blogger, author, teacher, psychologist, and researcher. Yvette has been married to Chris for 22 years and they live on the East Coast of Virginia. They have two boys, now adults, and a step-daughter who is expecting her second child next year. Yvette has been teaching — on and off  — elementary students and college level, since the 1990s. In 2018, Yvette became a Certified Higher Education Professional and currently teaches college and works part-time as a work psychologist.

In middle school, Yvette won public speaking awards, which led to the wonderful opportunity of attending a Performing Arts High School.

In college, she changed her major a few times before finally discovering the Education department.

Right after graduating, she decided to put her career to the side in order to stay home and raise her children. While doing so, she still worked part-time, which included teaching science education and five years of teaching elementary art.

As her children grew, she had the chance to go back to school and earn advanced degrees in psychology. While finishing up her dissertation, she healed from an invasive fungal infection, which was a challenging nightmare, but then also had positive outcomes. She now has a stronger bioterrian and continues to feel empowered by knowing alternative medicine and by remembering how precious life is. She is not a religious person, but she is a woman of faith and gives God all the glory for any and every success.

Yvette Prior and books

Welcome, Yvette.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

Buffalo, New York.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

Yvette Prior early school days

I started off at private for preschool and kindergarten. My mother became a Presbyterian and we withdrew from private Catholic and went to public. I went to a public “magnet” school for high school where I majored in performing arts.

What is the highest level of education you achieved? 

I earned my Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

Yvette Prior working life

As noted in the intro, after earning my undergrad in Education, I stayed home with children. I worked part-time (to stay fresh and bring in some money) and at first worked in a restaurant, where I was promoted to management and it was becoming a career. However, we then moved coast to coast, twice, and I taught at the Youth Science Institute of California and the Science Museum of Virginia. I then taught elementary art at two different private schools. I currently teach college and work part-time as a psychologist. In the next few years, I hope to do more research about work rewards and motivation and also hope to finish up some writing projects. 

What is your earliest memory of school?

An early memory from school was when my 4th grade, silver-haired teacher, said she was, “flabbergasted” with me. She had left the room and a few of us started dancing around. When she returned, she scolded everyone, but then got close to my face and said, “I am especially flabbergasted with you, Yvette.” I went home and asked my mother what it meant… and then she found out about it. That word always reminds me of that teacher.

What memories do you have of learning to read? 

I remember reading stations and recall the teacher using a jumbo book and audio recording to teach us words.

What memories do you have of learning to write? 

My 6th grade English teacher, Mr. Calderelli, taught me to write. However, on the second day of school, he threw an eraser towards my desk because a few of us were still talking. I cannot recall all the details, but he apologized and I was moved to the front of the room. We then connected and he became my favorite teacher. I had perfect attendance and won little awards. He published my writing in Buffalo’s “Our Best” – a short piece arguing against the death penalty. In hindsight, I see how that eraser event could have had a different outcome, and I am grateful it was a catalyst for bonding.

I have a post on my blog dedicated to Mr. C here.

(Norah’s note: If you haven’t yet read that post, or even if you have, I recommend you visit it and have a read. It is a fine example of Yvette’s work.)

What do you remember about math classes? 

I recall Mr. Smyth, in 7th grade honors math, showing us newspaper ads and having us figure out sale prices using percentages. I sometimes think of him when I see holiday ads.

What do you remember about history classes?

Yvette Prior on quality teaching

My 8th grade teacher gave fun assignments for extra credit. Sometimes a little extra credit allows more students to “win” and attain that sense of success with a better grade. Recently, I heard a teacher brag about how “tough” she was, but I think she is missing out on what makes a great teacher. Quality teaching is not defined by toughness, or being the sage on the stage; instead, the goal is to engage diverse learners and help them effectively meet course objectives. And sometimes – a little extra credit option can breathe needed motivation into students 

What was your favourite subject?

Yvette Prior favourite subject

My favorite subject was Trigonometry in high school. I started off by blowing off class. However, midway through the year, school became important to me and I buckled down and got caught up on my own. I studied hard using Barron’s review books — and even skipped a few parties to study. I finished the class well, but the best takeaways were discovering that self-learning mode and finding such a fun area of math. 

What did you like best about school? 

I liked the structure.  I also liked when teachers were nice to students – like Mrs. Short and Mrs. George.

What did you like least about school?  

My least favorite part about schools is that teachers (and the system) can sometimes be too harsh. There are mean teachers and sometimes the punishment for small infractions are overly punitive. This means students do not always connect the punishment with the behavior and so instead of behavior change – we have hurt students. Sometimes teachers are “too concerned about tasks” and not “concerned enough with the learner.”

What do you think schools (in general) do well? 

Today’s schools are culturally sensitive, still improving, but they have come a long way over the last 40 years. I like the work of Ruby Payne with regards to culture and economic differences.

Many schools also do a great job at educating a large number of students at one time.  I know an art teacher who provides art lessons to 2,000 students a week – and she says it is awesome.

I also think schools do well with “certain” students (the ones that conform, right-handed girls, etc.).

How do you think schools could be improved? 

I think schools could be improved if teachers were better trained with behavioral conditioning strategies and learned more about the powerful use of reinforcements. Teachers also need to make sure they are in tune with cognitive factors of learning (free will, moods, thoughts, and feelings) and the biological changes that growing children go through on their educational journey. Also, we need to sometimes give students a little power, along with rules and structure, but we need to empower more – especially for breeding leaders.

Classrooms need less sitting and more physical activity. Not just PE, but we need to let students move more.

Schools can also be improved if we taught emotion management at earlier ages and target the five Emotional Intelligence domains before middle school.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school, Yvette, then and now. It seems education is as much a part of your life as it is of mine. I appreciate your suggestions for improving schools and agree with what you say about the system. It is always good to hear from an educator and how their early experiences being schooled affect their attitudes to learning and teaching. Thank you for contributing your voice to this series.

Thank you, Norah, for inviting me to share in this series. And thanks to all the teachers out there who give so much of their lives to invest in students and help them on their educational journey.

 Find out more about Yvette Prior on her blog.
Find out more about Yvette’s books here.

To purchase your own copy of her books, click on the book title or image.

Lady by the River (stories of perseverance and self-help resources)

Avian Friends (Poems about nature, faith, appreciating life, and coping with grief)

Conversate (Tips for Parenting Teens)

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here and here.

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.

Thank you blog post

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

 

School Days, Reminiscences of the first 25

School Days, Reminiscences — the first 25

Every Sunday evening for the past twenty-five weeks, I have been sharing the school reminiscences of members of my blogging community. As well as being a way of thanking them for their support, it was a way to get to know them a little better and of letting you know about their services and publications.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the conversations that have developed around each individual’s reminiscences and I think, it is fair to say, we have learned much from each other. It is pleasing to see that new friendships have formed and the interest in each others’ work has grown.

I thought this was a good time to pause and reflect on the journeys of those we’ve met so far. If you haven’t yet and would like to join in by sharing your school days reminiscences, please let me know in the comments and I’ll send you the questions.

If you missed reading any of the first 25 reminiscences, click on the photos to check them out. The interviews contain links to the writers’ blogs, website and/or publications. Enjoy!

Charli Mills reminiscences about school days

School Days reminiscences of Sally Cronin

School Days Reminiscences of Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard's reminiscences of school days

school days reminiscences of Hugh Roberts

school days reminiscences of Debby Gies

Pauline King reminiscences of school days

School days, reminiscences of JulesPaige

School Days Reminiscences of D. Avery

School Days Reminiscences of Christy Birmingham

School days reminiscences of Miriam Hurdle

School Days Reminiscences of Robbie Cheadle

School Days Reminiscences of Marsha Ingrao

School Days Reminiscences of Ritu Bhathal

School Days, Reminiscences of Joy Lennick

School Days Reminiscences of Darlene Foster

School days, reminiscences of Susan Scott

School Days Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

School Days, Reminiscences of Sherri Matthews

School Days Reminiscences of Mabel Kwong

School Days, Reminiscences of Chelsea Owens

School Days Reminiscences of Carol Taylor

School Days reminiscences of Pamela Wight

School Days Reminiscences of Pete Springer

School Days Reminiscences of Balroop Singh

 

Thank you blog post

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