Tag Archives: writing with children

Flash fiction What does your daddy do

What does your daddy do?

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the safebreaker’s daughter. Who is she, what did she do, and where? Go where the prompt leads you!

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - safebreaker's daughter

In her post, Charli linked to the song The Safebreaker’s Daughter. After taking us on a deep mapping journey around the streets of her home, Charli contemplated what might occur should the safebreaker’s daughter turn up on one of those streets and wrote 99 words to share her thoughts. Please pop over and read if you would like to respond to her challenge as well.

As I have spent most of my life in the classroom, as usual, and not surprisingly, that’s where the prompt took me.

As teachers in public schools, we work with children from many different backgrounds, family configurations and status. The children of parents who ‘earn’ their living by not-so-honest means must also attend school. Unless those parents are the ‘wealthier’ white-collar criminals and seemingly respectable until caught out, many of the children attend public schools. Most teachers, at some time, will have worked with children whose parents engaged in practices outside the law or may have even been incarcerated. Sometimes we know. Sometimes we suspect. Sometimes we have no idea.

It is more than likely that the safebreaker’s daughter would have attended school and at some stage, as most children do, written about her parents and their work as part of her social studies. As we’ve just celebrated Father’s Day here in Australia, I decided to place the safebreaker’s daughter in a class writing about their father’s employment.

What Does Your Daddy Do?

The children drew portraits and wrote profiles of their fathers’ work. Some had accompanied their father to work and related first-hand knowledge of laying bricks, wearing a fireman’s helmet, sitting in the manager’s chair, or distributing medication to patients. Then it was Patsy’s turn. She read:

“My Dad

My dad goes to work at night. He is a cleaner. He works when everyone else is sleeping. He wears black jeans, a black shirt and a black hat. He wears gloves so he doesn’t leave fingerprints where he has cleaned. He usually cleans up banks and jewellery stores.

The end.”

 

My Dad - a childish story

Note: The burglar illustrating Patsy story is an alteration of an Image by Joe Alfaraby from Pixabay.

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Don't give up - a yet attitude and growth mindset

Don’t give up – Yet!

Discussions of the importance of having a ‘yet’ attitude or a growth mindset abound, including on this blog. I am very much in favour of the ‘yet’ thinking, as proposed by Carol Dweck.

Basically, it means that we don’t consider our ability to learn as finite. We believe our potential to be constantly expanding. We may not know or be able to do something ‘yet’, but we can work at it and with each attempt come closer to achieving it.

The resolve to maintain a growth mindset can be challenged at times when the going gets tough and there is no obvious solution. It can be difficult knowing when enough is enough and it’s time to move on; or if success is hiding just around the corner or on a slight detour.

I often debate with myself about how to interpret the truth in the messages the universe seems to be sending, weighing up giving up against exerting just a little more persistence and patience. Consequently, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the unplanned theme in my response to the flash fiction prompt at the Carrot Ranch this week.

charli mill's flash fiction challenge - colonnades

Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes colonnades. It can be natural, architectural, or a metaphor. Take a stroll and go where the prompt leads.

What could colonnades possibly have to do with a growth mindset you might think, as would I. But when I sat at the keyboard, without a clue of what to write, this is what developed. I hope you like it.

Never Give Up

The solid grey wall stretched without end, both left and right —impenetrable, no way around, no way through. Perhaps a way over? Even from that distance, it appeared unscaleable.

He removed his backpack and rested his head upon it as he lay, gazing upward. He sighed heavily. He’d trekked so far believing this was the way. How could he have been so wrong?

He closed his eyes and drifted into a deep sleep. Refreshed, upon awakening, he decided to continue rather than retreat.

As he drew closer, the wall separated into columns spaced perfectly to allow an easy passage.

Do you see what I saw emerge? A story about not giving up? Of the importance of adjusting focus when it seems a dead end is reached, when there’s nowhere else to go and nothing else to try? Or is the theme significant to only me as I try to find a way through the colonnades in my path?

As I was writing this story, I was reminded of one I wrote for children using the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty as a stimulus. In a similar way to Charli’s prompts, I was prompting children to think about possible reasons for Humpty Dumpty to be sitting on a wall and causes for him to fall.

The accident - an innovation on the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty

Of course, I couldn’t do the prompting without writing a story of my own: The Accident – Humpty Dumpty’s Fall.

In the story, ‘Humpty looked at the wall. He couldn’t see through it. He couldn’t see over it. And there was no way around it.’ He thought it was ‘no use’. Fortunately, his friend Pomble wasn’t one to give up quite so easily and found a way for them to see over the wall. It was what occurred when Humpty was looking over the wall that caused him to fall. I won’t tell you what happened but, unlike the nursery rhyme, my story has a happy ending.

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readilearn: Celebrating Christmas in the classroom

As December draws nigh, thoughts all over the world turn to celebrations of Christmas, a time for spreading joy through sharing acts of friendship and kindness to others.

Those of us in the Southern Hemisphere are also thinking about finalising the school year and taking a much-deserved long summer break.

Before we do, we look for ways of celebrating Christmas in the classroom while maintaining children’s focus and keeping them engaged in meaningful learning until the final moments of the school year.

While there are a variety of readilearn resources already existing to help you do that, this week I have uploaded four more, all of which support use of the popular interactive digital story Who’s hiding at Christmas?

Who's hiding at Christmas template

The Who’s hiding at Christmas -template is a printable resource with both template and instructions for children to make their own Who’s Hiding at Christmas book based upon the original. Children love to share their own Who am I? puzzles, and, as well as providing ongoing practise with both reading and writing skills, the booklets make a lovely gift for sibling or parent.

Continue reading: Celebrating Christmas in the classroom

Introducing author and poet – June Perkins – Readilearn

This week on the readilearn blog I am talking to June Perkins about her wonderful collection of poems for children Magic Fish Dreaming. With the beautiful illustrations by Helene Magisson, this collection is a delight for the ears, the eyes, and the spirit. Read about June’s inspiration for the poems, and use them as inspiration for poems of your own, or use them to inspire poetry writing in your students.

Read June’s story at readilearn: Introducing author and poet – June Perkins – Readilearn

5 forms of poetry to write with children – Readilearn

I love to write poems. Children do too.

Giving young children a simple structure or a repetitive pattern to start from gets them thinking about words, how they sound, what they mean, the number of syllables and letters. All the while they are having fun, playing with words and sounds, and learning about language.

Five easy poems to write with children are:

  • Acrostic poems
  • Sound poems
  • Haiku
  • “I love” poems, and
  • Shape poems

Acrostic poems are one of the easiest. They don’t need to rhyme or follow a set rhythmic pattern.

Click to continue reading: 5 forms of poetry to write with children – Readilearn

 

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