Tag Archives: Literacy

interview with author Wenda Shurety about her picture book Eva's Imagination

Interview with author Wenda Shurety – Readilearn

This week, it is my pleasure to introduce you to author Wenda Shurety as she discusses her new picture book Eva’s Imagination. I especially enjoy Wenda’s book for its focus on imagination, something I consider very important to encourage in young children. Without imagination, we are unable to see beyond what is and have little chance of progress being made.

About Wenda

Wenda grew up in the beautiful county of Norfolk in England and now resides in Brisbane with her supportive husband, cheeky daughter and two rescue dogs. Wenda loves to write children’s stories with heart; whether it involves diversity, science or the magical world of the imagination.

About Eva’s Imagination

Eva doesn’t know what an imagination is. With the help of her dog Chops, Eva goes on a hunt to find it. Eva’s Imagination is a delightful story about the power of the imagination that aims to inspire young children to find adventure in their surroundings rather than from screens.

Now let’s meet Wenda.

The interview

Continue reading: Interview with author Wenda Shurety – Readilearn

World Read Aloud Day, Children's Mental Health Week, Chinese New Year

First week of February celebrations – Readilearn

In the first week of February, celebrations include World Read Aloud Day, Children’s Mental Health Week and Chinese New Year.

Readilearn has lessons ready to assist you with each of these celebrations.

World Read Aloud Day

First up is World Read Aloud Day on 1 February—today! The day aims to encourage people everywhere to “read aloud together and share stories to advocate for literacy as a human right that belongs to all people“.

Perhaps no one knows better than teachers of young children the importance of reading aloud. Children who come to school having been read to at home have the advantage of more extensive vocabularies and proficiency with language, greater general knowledge and interest in the world around them, and an interest in books and learning. These advantages contribute to success in school and life.

Making time for reading aloud in a busy class program is a priority for teachers of children in their first three years of school. Opportunities occur in every subject area, and it is not difficult to find ways of working a few extra stories into the program. Why not use World Read Aloud Day as an excuse to read a few more books than usual (as if an excuse is needed).

If you are unsure where to start selecting, visit the library and ask the librarian for suggestions, or take the class with you and ask them to each choose a book they’d like to hear.

The guest post by teacher Jennie Fitzkee on the importance of reading aloud is also full of suggestions.

Five of my favourite picture books (of which there are hundreds so impossible to list) are:

Continue reading: First week of February celebrations – Readilearn

lessons and suggestions for teaching writing in the first three years of school

Establishing a writing classroom – Readilearn

Establishing a writing classroom, one in which children want to write, develop confidence in writing and develop the skills to write with accuracy and clarity, begins from the first day of school.

Characteristics of a writing classroom

Nine characteristics of a writing classroom are:

  • purposeful writing occurs throughout the day in all areas of the curriculum,
  • the process of writing is modelled,
  • children’s writing is scaffolded,
  • children write in response to set tasks,
  • children write about topics and in genres of their own choice,
  • the message is paramount,
  • writing conventions; such as spelling, punctuation and grammar, are learned by writing,
  • children’s writing is celebrated, and
  • children enjoy writing.

If children are provided only with writing tasks and topics set by the teacher, they may view writing simply as a task to perform, something to please the teacher, rather than as a vehicle for self-expression or for sharing imaginative and creative thoughts and stories or information.

Opportunities for writing occur throughout the day and should include:

Continue reading: Establishing a writing classroom – Readilearn

holiday activities maintain school learning in literacy and mathematics

Holiday activities maintain school learning – Readilearn

Parents often ask teachers for suggestions of holiday activities that will maintain learning before children return to school. While we neither expect nor want children to spend hours at a desk engaged in school-type lessons, there is plenty that parents can do with their children to keep them curious and motivated to learn. This post includes suggestions teachers can provide to parents.

Some of the best things parents can do to maintain children’s learning are: 

  • Encourage their questions and help them find, rather than simply provide, the answers.
  • Engage children in experiments to discover what happens. Don’t rely exclusively on books or internet searches.
  • Take them on outings and adventures to natural as well as constructed points of interest; such as rainforests, beaches, national parks, marine parks, libraries, museums and art galleries.
  • Talk with them about anything and everything including feelings, dreams, goals, desires for the future, fears, how things work and what happens if.
  • Read to them, with them and beside them. Show them you value reading for a range of purposes including for information and enjoyment.
  • Play games with them—indoor and outdoor games, board games and games you create or construct.
  • Most of all, spend time being with them, enjoying their company, getting to know them, in the present moment. Childhood is fleeting and each moment, precious.

Free handouts of holiday activities that maintain school learning 

There are three free handouts of holiday suggestions available for teachers to distribute to parents, or indeed for parents to access for themselves.

Continue reading: Holiday activities maintain school learning – Readilearn

Christmas classroom activities that focus on learning

Christmas classroom activities that focus on learning – Readilearn

As Christmas draws near, keeping children focussed on their lessons can be a challenge for teachers. But it’s not impossible. It is not necessary to fill every moment with Christmas themed activities, but a few interspersed throughout the day can be motivating and lift everyone’s spirits. Activities that promote children’s learning should always take precedence over time fillers.

To assist teachers keep the focus on learning while children would rather be thinking of Christmas and holidays, I have prepared a range of lessons and suggestions for use in different subject areas. Many of the lessons and suggestions integrate learning across curriculum areas. All readilearn Christmas themed activities can be found under the Cultural Studies tab in the subcategory Christmas.

Focus on the children

A great place to start is always with the children and their family’s traditions.

Begin with a survey to 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.

How many school days until Christmas?

Advent Calendars that count down the twenty-five December days until Christmas are great for families to use in the home but not so suitable for school. What about counting down the school days until Christmas? Twenty-five school days would mean starting at least five weeks before school finishes, which might be a bit soon, so choose another number which suits your program. Fifteen (three weeks) could be a good number. (Note: If, for inclusivity, you didn’t wish to count down to Christmas, you could count down to the holidays.)

A countdown calendar

Schedule opportunities for the children to present information about their family traditions as part of the countdown.

Continue reading: Christmas classroom activities that focus on learning – Readilearn

printable board game for learning to follow directions - forwards, backwards, left, right

readilearn: Turtle Island – a game of directions: forwards, backwards, left, right

The ability to give and follow directions according to one’s location is an important skill and one that we frequently use in everyday life. Some of the first directions we use are forwards, backwards, left and right. Often when we teach children these directions, everyone is facing the same way and move in unison.

Understanding that the directions are relative to the way you are facing, and may be different for someone facing another way, can be tricky to develop. Many of us early childhood teachers experience difficulty identifying our own left and right after years of facing children as we teach them their left and right.

I have always considered games to be a great tool for learning. They not only provide a fun way of learning concepts, but they also provide opportunities for children to interact with each other and learn the social skills of getting along at the same time. Games help build positive attitudes toward school, learning and each other. They often incorporate learning across the curriculum and can be used in groups, with buddies or with an adult support person.

This week, I have uploaded a new printable board game which involves children in following directions. For the next few weeks, the game will be available free to everyone, whether a registered readilearn user or not. Why? Because I need your help, please.

Continue reading: readilearn: Turtle Island – a game of directions: forwards, backwards, left, right

reading the Iron Man by Ted Hughes to spark imagination, inspire writing and motivate making

Reading the Iron Man to spark imagination, inspire writing and motivate making – Readilearn

One of my favourite read-aloud books is The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. The influence of poetry is obvious in this compelling modern fairy tale that begins as it might end.

When I introduce this book to children, I conceal it so they cannot see from which part of it I am reading. I tell them the title of the book and ask them to tell me whether I am reading from the beginning, the middle or the end of the book.

I then read, mostly without interruption though I do explain that ‘brink’ is the very edge, the first two pages that describe the Iron Man and how he stepped off the top of a cliff into nothingness and crashed into pieces on the rocks below.

The children listen in awe, fascinated by the size of the Iron Man, incredulous that he would step off the cliff, mesmerised by the telling of each part breaking off and crashing, bumping, clanging to lie scattered on the rocky beach.

They invariably tell me it is the end of the story. How could it be otherwise? When I tell them it is just the beginning, they are amazed and excitedly discuss how the story might continue. This could lead to writing if the children are keen, but there are other opportunities further into the story.

When this initial discussion has run its course, I go back to the beginning and read it again, stopping to encourage further discussion and to spark the children’s imaginations.

allow their imaginations to contemplate possibilities

Continue reading: Reading the Iron Man to spark imagination, inspire writing and motivate making – Readilearn