Tag Archives: Writing

What’s an apostrophe for? – #readilearn

It’s not uncommon to see apostrophes used incorrectly, even in professional writing. But apostrophes don’t have to be difficult. They really have just two uses — for contractions and to show possession. Apostrophes aren’t confusing or tricky when the rules are understood.

To support your teaching of this punctuation mark and to encourage writers to get their writing right, I have produced an interactive resource that explains, demonstrates and provides practice in its correct use. It is called Apostrophes Please!

About Apostrophes Please!

Apostrophes Please! is an interactive resource, ready for use on the interactive whiteboard. It consists of enough material for a series of lessons teaching the correct use of apostrophes in both contractions and possessive nouns.

Like other readilearn resources, Apostrophes Please! recognises the value of teacher input and the importance of teacher-student discussion. It is not designed for children to use independently. It relies simply on effective teaching.

The resource provides flexibility for the teacher to choose activities which are relevant to student needs and teaching focus. All lessons and activities encourage explanation, stimulate discussion and provide opportunities for children to practise, explain and demonstrate what they have learned. There are nineteen interactive slides and over thirty slides in all.

Organisation of Apostrophes Please!

Contractions and possessive nouns are introduced separately.

Apostrophes Please! Contractions menu
Apostrophes Please Possession menu

Both sections include three subsections, each consisting of a number of slides:

  • Learn — explanatory teaching slides introduce how apostrophes are used
  • Practice — interactive activities provide opportunities for teachers and students to discuss, demonstrate and explain how apostrophes are used
  • Check — a review of the use of apostrophes provides additional opportunities for practice, discussion and explanation to consolidate learning.

Continue reading: What’s an apostrophe for? – readilearn

For the Love of Books – #readilearn

Next Monday 14 February is a day with much to celebrate. As well as Valentine’s Day, it’s Library Lovers’ Day and International Book Giving Day.

It’s not difficult for me to talk about love and books in the same sentence as I have loved books for as long as I can remember. Although my reading habits have changed over the years, I have always been an avid reader and was a dedicated borrower of books from the library as I was growing up.

As an adult, I tend/ed to purchase rather than borrow for my own reading and could never pass a book shop without purchasing something for me, a family member or friend, and a picture book or three for my classroom collection. Books borrowed from the school library filled out the classroom library.

A birthday, Christmas or other occasion never passed without giving and receiving books. So, being able to combine the celebration of love, books and an appreciation for libraries is a treat. Nothing could be easier. Simply take someone you love to the library and gift them a book.

About Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day probably needs no introduction. In many parts of the world, it is a day for celebrating love and romance. Gifts of chocolates, flowers and verses in cards are often given.

Of course, in the classroom, our discussions aren’t about romantic love, but that doesn’t mean we can’t think about those important people in our lives whom we do love.

Children can write their own “I love” poem by innovating on the traditional camping song I love the mountains.

Continue reading: For the Love of Books – readilearn

Grandpa’s Tool Shed #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write about tools. Whose tools are they and how do they fit into the story? What kind of tools? Go where the prompt leads!

Charli, of course wrote about writer’s tools and provided a multitude of links to great resources for learning about them. She also wrote about tools for dealing with snow, but I can only imagine using them. My experience with snow is very limited.

I drew upon my memories of childhood for my response. I hope you like it.

Grandpa’s Tool Shed

Jacob worked tirelessly alongside Grandpa. He loved the sweet scent of sawdust curls and the heady smell of fresh paint. He loved that ash from Grandpa’s cigarette fell unchecked into the shavings. He especially liked using Grandpa’s real tools. The plastic bench at Kindy was only a toy.

Jacob’s visits decreased but Grandpa never forgot. He left the house, the shed and all his tools to Jacob. Standing in the dark empty shed, Jacob tried to conjure the smells of Grandpa. There was nothing else to do. He rolled up his sleeves and started planing sawdust curls — in memory.

Thank you blog post

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

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

Priorhouse Interview

A few weeks ago, I was delighted to be interviewed by Yvette Prior on her Priorhouse blog.

I have known Yvette for a few years now and always enjoy reading her posts that share photography, art, humour and wisdom.

School Days Reminiscences of Yvette Prior

A couple of years ago, Yvette participated in my School Days, Reminiscences series. You can read her post here. You can also find out about her books at the end of that post or on her website here.

Yvette has a wonderful way of presenting interviews on her blog. If you are interested in reading our conversation and finding out a little more about me, please pop over to Yvette’s blog to read : Norah Colvin @ Readilearn (Priorhouse Interview)

Candy Kitchen #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features a candy kitchen. You can interpret the phrase creatively or stick to the traditional. Is it sweet? Ironic? Any genre will do. Go where the prompt leads!

My thoughts about a candy kitchen went straight to Roald Dahl’s book Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. What an incredible candy kitchen that was. And then there was the song The Candy Man performed by Sammy Davis Jr.

Who wouldn’t want to be a kid in a candy store, or better yet, a kid in a candy kitchen?

I thought of the busy kitchen of my childhood, with my mother making sweets for Christmas treats. There were rum balls and peanut brittle, chocolate bark and caramel fudge, coconut ice and marshmallow, and who knows what other sweet delights. I don’t remember them all. But I do remember one more recent Christmas when the choice of sweets became a philosophical rather than taste decision.

This is a fictionalised version of the incident. I hope you enjoy it.

Marshmallow Waves

The cooks bustled about my kitchen making sweets to gift.

“I love homemade gifts,” she said.

“Especially when we get to share,” he said, sampling largish crumbs of fudge and coconut ice.

“Marshmallow is amazing,” she said. It mixes up so light and fluffy,”

“What’s in it?”

“Sugar, water and gelatine.”

“What’s gelatine?” he asked.

I dared not tell the vegetarians, but he searched for information on his phone.

“We can’t eat that,” he spluttered. “Gelatine’s made from animal bones!”

The marshmallow mix, so light and fluffy, was binned. Not even a taste for me, although I’m not vegetarian.

Thank you blog post

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

Ready-to-teach Christmas-themed Lessons and Activities for P-2 – #readilearn

While Christmas might be still eight weeks away, for some of you, the school year will finish well before that, and I know many are already planning your Christmas and holiday-themed lessons and activities.

Here at readilearn, we ensure that learning continues when the Christmas fun begins.

Who celebrates Christmas?

Before you begin Christmas-related activities, it is a good idea to conduct a survey to find out which children do and do not celebrate Christmas with their families. While you may already know this, the survey can be an interesting way to begin discussions of different cultural traditions celebrated by children in your class.

These discussions should always be respectful and inclusive. It is essential for children, and all of us, to see that what we have in common is more important than any differences.

How many school days until Christmas?

This calendar helps to count down the last fifteen days of term and provides an opportunity for children to present information about their family’s traditions. The Countdown Calendar can be used to countdown to Christmas or, for inclusivity, to the holidays.

Inclusive friendship trees

Continue reading: Ready-to-teach Christmas-themed Lessons and Activities for P-2 – readilearn

Saddle Up Saloon; Chattin’ With Norah Colvin

I had a great chat with my fellow Ranch-hand, writer and educator, D. Avery over at the Saddle Up Saloon at the Carrot Ranch. We discussed my favourite topics – children, education and writing. Not your usual saloon fare, eh? A bit dry for Kid and Pal too.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

“Hey Kid. Kinda quiet ‘round the Saloon. Ain’tcha got anythin’ lined up?”

“Nope. But as ya kin see, Pal, there’s a few folks in jist relaxin’ an’ chattin’ over a bev’rage a choice.”

“Yeah, I see thet. Look there, is that Norah Colvin?”

“Yep. Says she’s waitin’ on a buddy a hers.”

“Reckon thet buddy is here. Why it’s—”

“D. Avery? Them two’s buddies? What a they have in common?”

“Well, they both know their way ‘roun’ the Ranch.”

“Reckon, but Norah Colvin’s respectable an’ all, an’ our writer’s so…”

“Jist serve ‘em both Kid an’ leave ‘em be.”

******************************************************************************

Hello Norah! I’m so glad we have a place where we can finally hang out together. But it seems Kid is wondering that we’re buddies.

Hello D.

Buddies! I like that. Buddies is not a term commonly used in Australia, so I think this is the first time I’ve ever…

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Without a Hat #flashfiction

This week a the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about naked gardening. Is it the veggies or the gardener who is naked? Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you like it.

Without a Hat

The farmer was out standing in the field when, one day, a wind whipped up and snatched his hat, tossing it into the air. It swooped over the garden beds as if playfully daring, ‘Come catch me.’ But the farmer couldn’t catch the hat which had been a fixture on his head for countless years. Everyone said he looked naked without it, but no other hat would do. Without it, he wilted in sun’s heat and sagged in rain. As the parading seasons took their toll, he disintegrated and decomposed, continuing to nourish the garden in a new way.

Thank you blog post

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

Having fun with Haiku Poetry in the Classroom – #readilearn

Next Saturday 17 April is Haiku Poetry Day. Why not prepare for the day, by reading and writing haiku during the week leading up to it, or for those of us in Australia still on school holidays, celebrate the week after. Of course, any time is good for reading and writing haiku — no excuse is needed.

What is Haiku?

Haiku is a short poem of only three lines with a very structured form. There only 17 syllables in the entire poem:

five on the first line 

seven syllables come next

and five on the third 

The purpose of the haiku is to capture a brief moment in time. Traditionally, it is written about the seasons but can be used to write poems on any topic. Haiku poetry often concludes with a feeling or observation. Sometimes the feeling is not explicit but is left for the reader to interpret.

What is a syllable?

Before you begin to teach your children to write haiku, they need to know what a syllable is. Whether you are teaching or revising syllables, readilearn has some resources to support you, including:

Continue reading: Having fun with Haiku Poetry in the Classroom – readilearn