Tag Archives: Literacy

Halloween mathematics lessons for the interactive whiteboard

readilearn: Engaging mathematics learning with Halloween themed resources

In just a couple of weeks, people in many parts of the world will be celebrating Halloween. Even in Australia, where the festival has only recently begun to take hold, merchandise now fills our (mainly discount) stores, and children look forward to a night of fun, knocking on doors and collecting treats from family and friends.

The festival dates back two thousand years to its origins in what is now Ireland, England and France. Irish immigrants took the festival to America in the 1800s. Halloween arrived in Australia with immigrants and through its portrayal in movies and on television. Always looking for an excuse to party, Australians are ready to join in.

Originally, the festival celebrated the end of summer harvests and marked the beginning of the long dark northern winters. The festivities have evolved over the centuries with changes to focus and traditions.

I have always thought that adding a bit of fun to the school day helps the learning go down. If the children are going to be distracted by thoughts of their Halloween costumes and what booty they might score in an evening of trick or treating, why not harness those distractions and channel them into learning?

To combine fun with learning, this week I have uploaded three new interactive Halloween themed maths resources for use on the interactive whiteboard. The resources help to develop number concepts up to ten and are available to subscribers. As do other readilearn resources, they acknowledge that it is the richness of discussion occurring between teacher and children that helps to consolidate children’s learning.

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World Smile Day, World Teachers' Day, World Space Week

readilearn: Smiles unite our world

Today is a day to celebrate. It is both World Teachers’ Day and World Smile Day. What a great combination. In addition, these special days also coincide with World Space Week which is celebrated from 4 – 10 October.

World Teachers’ Day

World Teachers’ Day celebrates the contribution that teachers make to education around the world.

This year’s event marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) in which education is recognised as “a key fundamental right and establishes an entitlement to free compulsory education, ensuring inclusive and equitable access for all children”.

This year’s theme is “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher.”

According to UNESCO, “One of the main challenge [sic] to this right worldwide is the continued shortage of teachers. There are an estimated 264 million children and youth still out of school globally, and according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, the world needs to recruit almost 69 million new teachers to reach the 2030 education goal of universal primary and secondary education. This ‘teacher gap’ is more pronounced among vulnerable populations – girls, children with disabilities, refugee and migrant children, and poor children living in rural or remote areas.”

If you wish to support organisations that provide education for people in need, this list on informED might be a good place to find one. I’m sure there are many more and perhaps some closer to home. The focus of The Smith Family, one of the organisations I support, is on helping disadvantaged Australian children get the most out of their education so they can improve their futures.

Having spent almost all my life in education in a variety of roles; including student, teacher, teacher support and educational writer, I know how hard teachers work and the importance of the contribution they make to each life they touch. I also know that sometimes they work in situations that cause them much stress, in which they don’t feel valued, and are unsupported. Sadly, more and more experienced teachers are leaving the classroom for these and other reasons, which will only make it more difficult to reach the 2030 goal of universal education.

Happy World Teachers' Day discount subscription

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readilearn teaching resources for the first three years of school

readilearn: freemium lower primary teaching resources with lessons ready to teach

In this post, I explain what readilearn is and how it works. There is more to readilearn than just this blog. In fact, this blog is just one small part of it.

readilearn is a collection of digital teaching resources designed for use with children from about five to seven years of age in their first three years of school. They are equally suited to the homeschool situation and for use with ESL students.

A freemium website, readilearn provides free support and resources for teachers in a variety of ways. However, some resources are exclusive to subscribers. The small annual subscription of just AU$25 reduces teachers’ workloads with lessons ready to teach and recognises and adds little to the expenditure many already occur in purchasing resources for their classrooms.

Resources are available across curriculum areas. Many provide contexts for integrating learning in fun and meaningful ways.

readilearn categories and subject or curriculum areas

readilearn resources support teachers teaching and children learning by providing opportunities for discussions that promote thinking, collaboration and learning across the curriculum. Open-ended discussions encourage children to learn from each other as well as the teacher and to participate at their own level.

Resources include
  • original digital stories (estories)
  • interactive teaching episodes
  • open-ended problem-solving activities
  • readilessons (lessons ready to teach)
  • printable activities
  • teaching suggestions
  • notes for parents
  • and more.
Free from readilearn

Continue reading: readilearn: freemium lower primary teaching resources with lessons ready to teach

Interview with Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern author of Charlie's Adventures in South Africa

readilearn: Books on Wednesday — Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa by Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern

This week I have great pleasure in introducing Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern author of Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa. This post is but one of several celebrating Jacqueline’s beautiful picture book in Romi Sharp’s Books on Tour. Please read to the end of the post for details of other posts celebrating Jacqueline’s work.

About Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern

Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern is a Canberra based author and the recipient of the ACT Writers Centre 2017 Anne Edgeworth Fellowship. Her debut picture book, Charlie’s Adventures…in Hawaii, was shortlisted for the 2017 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards and chosen as a finalist in the 2017 American Best Book Awards. Her second book in the Charlie’s Adventure series, Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa, was recently released. At the heart of Jacqueline’s books are an appreciation of travel and the uniqueness of culture. She endeavours to encourage her readers to learn more about the world, supporting an empathetic and inclusive community.

About Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa

Charlie is off on the second of his adventures with his family … to South Africa! With his friends, Charlie is set on a discovery of different clues to uncover South Africa’s Rainbow Nation. Join Charlie and his family on their adventures across the world.

The interview

Welcome to readilearn, Jacqueline.

Thanks for inviting me.

Jacqueline, what gave you the idea for this book?

Continue reading: readilearn: Books on Wednesday — Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa by Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern

innovating on the traditional story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears

When you’re on a theme, stick to it

Education is my theme. It’s my passion. Sometimes I think I should get another interest, but I’m stuck with this one. Sometimes I get stuck with a theme within a theme too. That’s happening at the moment.

Goldilocks and her Friends the Three Bears interactive innovation

A couple of weeks ago, I uploaded an innovation on the traditional story of Goldilocks to readilearn, a collection of teaching resources for the first three years of school. I also added some suggestions for using the resource to teach reading and writing, including sight words in context. I have other supporting resources in progress to be added to the collection soon.

While my story Goldilocks and her Friends the Three Bears is not really a fractured fairy tale, it’s simply a retelling with an alternative ending; I’ve also been thinking of fractured fairy tales for my Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest coming up next month. (Look for further details to be published at the Ranch this week.)

So stuck on this theme am I, that I wrote a 297 (3 x 99) word story as a response to Charli’s Tuff prompt “Papa’s Bar”. While this Free-Write contest is now closed (writers have only twenty-four hours to respond to the prompt), there will be four more chances to enter the TUFFest Ride event with the next one scheduled for September 19. Be sure to look out for it if you want to be in it.

Note: I’m not sure where or what the Papa’s bar is that Charli alluded to, but I am sure that it’s not what I wrote my story about. In Australia, when we play tiggy, that you might know as tag or tig, or some other name, we might allocate a certain spot as ‘bar’. This means that you are safe and cannot be tagged when on or touching that spot. Sometimes, players will attempt to allocate a spot as bar just as they arrive at it in order to avoid being tagged.

While I have no thoughts that I may win any of the TUFF contests, it is fun having a go. This is what I wrote in response to the Papa’s Bar prompt. I hope you enjoy it.

bears sleeping

Papa’s Bar

Out in the woods lived a family of bears; Papa Bear, Mama Bear and baby bears five. All summer long, Papa Bear toiled, ensuring his family were contentedly fuelled, ready to sleep through the winter’s long dark. They filled up their bellies with berries hung low, with fish in abundance in streams flowing clear, and hives’ full bounty of gold. Mama and babies had no need to complain, every meal Papa made, a sumptuous feast.  When autumn arrived, and food became scarce, Papa Bear said, ‘Now’s time for bed. Close your eyes little ones, dream sweet dreams until spring.’

The babies were restless, not ready for sleep.

‘We need a story,’ a little one said. ‘Tell us about life when you were a cub. What did you eat? Where did you play?’

‘Just one story — then sleep.’

‘We need a drink first,’ said the cubs.

‘Okay, but lickety-split.’

They had just settled back when another voice said, ‘I’m hungry.’

‘Me too,’ chimed the others.

‘Can’t be,’ said Papa Bear. ‘No food until spring.’

‘Awh,’ they chorused.

‘I could make some porridge,’ yawned Mama Bear.

‘Yay! Porridge!’ said the baby bears.

‘But then you must sleep,’ said Papa Bear.

But they didn’t. Before his story was through, Papa Bear was snoring with Mama Bear nestled beside him.

‘Let’s play tag,’ smirked one.

‘I’m It,’ said another.

They took turns to run and catch, and through it all, the parent bears slept.

At last, the littlest bear yawned. No more running and catching, he was ready for sleep. He scrambled over Papa Bear, escaping the tagger’s clutches with a warning, ‘Can’t get me. Papa’s bar.’

His eyes closed and then, one by one, they snuggled into a big bear hug, murmuring ‘Papa’s bar’ as they drifted off to sleep.

Pasta prompt for Carrot Ranch Flash fiction prompt by Charli Mills

When Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch posted this week’s flash fiction prompt, challenging writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes pasta. It can be spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, or any variety. It can be a meal or a work of art. Go where the prompt leads, how could I not get the bears in on the act again.

This is my response. I hope you enjoy it too.

Pasta for Breakfast

Papa Bear pushed back his chair. “Not this muck again.”

Mama Bear stopped mid-ladle. “It’s Baby Bear’s favourite. I— I thought it was yours too.”

Baby Bear’s lip quivered.

“Pfft! Sometimes a bear needs real food.” He grabbed his hat. “I’m going for a walk.”

“Papa!” Baby Bear went after him.

Mama Bear dumped the porridge, pot and all, into the bin, grabbed her hat and followed.

“Where are we going?” asked Baby Bear.

“Somewhere nice for breakfast. It is spring after all.”

Papa Bear paused outside BreakFasta Pasta, then went in.

Mama Bear smiled; pasta was her favourite.

Thank you blog post

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

reading magic - read, talk, play, laugh, have fun

A sprinkle of this, a pinch of that, and poof! It’s reading — magic!

ArtbyJonz ©Norah Colvin 2015

My children were early readers. Both began reading real books well before their fourth birthdays. Of course, the timing, whether early or late, matters little now that they are adults. What matters is that they are readers who read competently and confidently for a range of purposes including for information and pleasure. They are readers by choice as well as purpose.

The ability to read is something that most of us take for granted. Many have no recollection of learning to read, only of being able to do so all of a sudden, as if we just could, by magic.

But, as with any spell, there are certain essential ingredients that make the magic happen and others that inhibit the process. Creating readers of choice and not just purpose is the real magic. Creating non-readers is the effect of a spell in reverse, of a bad mix of ingredients, that sadly occurs all too often.

Bec reading to herself at 12 months

Bec reading to herself at 12 months

My children were readers of choice long before they could read anything for themselves. I wouldn’t say I set out to “teach” them to read. In fact, I didn’t at all. I set out to encourage in them a love of books and writing. Their learning to read was a by-product of sharing the love of words, language and reading.

The magic ingredients for developing readers:

  • Talk
  • Play
  • Read
  • Write
  • Love
  • Fun

I loved having time with my children. Being with them, watching them grow and develop was special, the best and most magical of days. They taught me as much or more about love, life and learning as they learned from me.

Talk

From their earliest days I talked to them, explained things to them — what was happening, what we were doing, and how things worked. I pointed things out and told them what it was called, what it was doing, what it was used for, or how it worked. When we were out and about, I’d point out signs and explain how I knew to stop or where to go. I avoided “baby” talk and always used appropriate everyday language.

Play

We played and had fun together, using our imaginations to create our own games. Sometimes we played simple board games and completed jigsaw puzzles. Whatever we played, talk always accompanied it.

Nor and Bec reading the family book

Reading to Bec at about 12 months old.

Read

I read to them, every day, not just one but many books. As I read, we discussed details in the illustrations and made predictions about the stories, sharing our thoughts. If a word was presented in a large or colourful font, I’d point to it as I read it. We’d laugh at the funny stories and cry at the sad and discuss all the story events. When they could read, they’d read to me, and we took turns reading together until they were early teens.

Write

When they first started to talk, I made books with pictures and words from their growing vocabulary. I labelled items in their rooms; for example, bed, shelf, window, door.

I made books about things we did with photographs and text. A book about our family made for my daughter’s first birthday was one of the favourites when cousins came to visit too.

The environment

I provided my children with an environment rich in language, books and opportunities for thinking. I’d read and write with them and to them, and they’d see me reading and writing for myself as well.

When son Rob was little, I didn’t yet know what I now know about the development of language, reading, and thinking. He taught me much that was later confirmed by my studies.

Rob reading to his toys at age two

Rob, aged two, reading to some of his toys.

When he was only two, Rob would line up his toys on the couch, sit in the middle, and “read” to them. He would almost recite the stories from beginning to end. He already knew that the words in a book remain the same each time they are read — an important concept for beginning readers to grasp. When he was only three, he’d jump into bed beside me in the early morning after Hub had gone to work, prise my eyes open, and read to me! Magic!

Daughter Bec was born twelve years after Rob. Meanwhile, I had returned to college and studied the development of reading and language. I was amazed to find that we had unwittingly created the essential mix of ingredients for his learning to occur

Naturally, armed with experience as well as understanding, I did things pretty much the same for Bec — talking, reading, writing, playing, having fun and enjoying time together.

Bec sharing one of her favourite books.

Bec sharing one of her favourite books.

When she was five, Bec was invited to participate in a study of children who learned to read before starting school. Of the children (maybe half a dozen) involved in the study, Bec was the only one the researcher considered to be really reading. She was reading fluently, with comprehension and at a higher level than the other children.

Some of the children were able to recognise isolated words, but not read them in continuous text. Others had been taught letters and sounds using flashcards and stopped to ‘sound’ out every word. They hadn’t become real readers.

Bec was not subjected to reading “lessons” as the other children had been. She was immersed in an environment that encouraged a love of learning, language and literacy.  The other parents had a need for their children to read as if their value as parents depended on it.

While I had an expectation that Bec would read, I was confident that she would come to it in her own time. My credibility as a parent was not tied to her ability. Having said that, both children (adults) are now very successful in their chosen fields, so I must have done something right. Or perhaps we were just lucky that we chanced upon the magic mix of ingredients.

I do wish that all parents would include a sprinkle of language and a pinch of reading mixed with love and fun into their children’s lives every day. It would contribute greatly toward eradicating illiteracy.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction prompt by Charli Mills: magic

What got me thinking about reading, and magic in particular, is the challenge by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes magic. It can be a supernatural force, a moment or idea, or use it as a verb. Go where the prompt leads.

The ability to be transported into other realms is pure magic. The ability to share this magic with others is bliss.

Mem Fox has more to say about that in her lovely book for parents Reading Magica book I always include when selecting gifts for first-time parents.

Reading Magic by Mem Fox

Here is my response to Charli’s prompt. I hope you enjoy it.

A Sprinkle of This and a Pinch of That

“Whatcha doin?”

“Makin’ a spell.”

“What sorta spell?”

“A magic spell.”

“Can I help?”

“Sure.”

“Whadda I do?”

“Put stuff in the pot.”

“What sorta stuff?”

“Gotta read the recipe.”

“What’s it say?”

“Ya gotta read it.”

“I can’t.”

“Oh. Okay. I’ll help. Look, it says …”

Mum stopped at the door to the kitchen. “Wha— What are you doing?”

“Nothin’,” mumbled the older.

“Makin’ magic spells,” grinned the younger, covered in flour from head to toe.

“What sort of magic spell?” asked Mum, wishing for her own magic spell.

“Take us to outa space.”

“Can I come too?”

Thank you blog post

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

 

Interview with Katrin Dreiling illustrator of The World's Worst Pirate by Michelle Worthington

readilearn: Introducing Katrin Dreiling illustrator of The World’s Worst Pirate

This week I have enormous pleasure in introducing you to Katrin Dreiling illustrator of The World’s Worst Pirate, written by Michelle Worthington.

The World’s Worst Pirate is a captivating book about being true to yourself and unleashing your inner strengths.

Story Synopsis

One might wonder why Will, the world’s worst pirate, would want to be a pirate anyway. The truth is, he didn’t. There wasn’t much at all he liked about being at sea. He was happiest in the galley cooking cupcakes. The ship’s captain, his mother, on the other hand, couldn’t understand why he didn’t love being a pirate as much as she did. When the ship is attacked by a terrifying sea monster, no one could have predicted the outcome. Katrin Dreiling’s illustrations are a perfect fit or Michelle Worthington’s story. They add humour, delight, and a sub-plot of their own.

The Illustrator

The World’s Worst Pirate, published by Little Pink Dog Books in 2017, is Katrin’s first picture book. In 2018 the book received the CBCA Notable Book award, a wonderful achievement, especially for a first book. Prior to becoming an illustrator in Australia, Katrin studied languages in Germany to become a teacher. She loves to come up with quirky creations that inspire children to get creative themselves. Katrin’s second book, also written by Michelle and published by Little Pink Dog Books, will launch in September this year.  Katrin also enjoys writing for children and regularly teaches art classes in Newfarm, Brisbane.

The Interview

Welcome to readilearn, Katrin.

Thank you for inviting me.

Katrin, The World’s Worst Pirate was listed as a Notable Picture Book in the CBCA 2018 Book of the Year awards. Congratulations. Since it is your very first published picture book, that must have been very special. How did it make you feel?

Continue reading: readilearn: Introducing Katrin Dreiling illustrator of The World’s Worst Pirate