Rainbows | A Very Special Post

I've got something special in store for my readers today! An insight into my childhood... when I (aged 5) was obsessed with RAINBOWS! I drew pictures, I wrote stories, all the rainbows in the stories were named after my friends, I knew the rainbow song (left picture below), I knew what ROYGBIV meant (right picture below), and of course like most children, I remember looking up in awe at a real life rainbow in the sky. I have two work books from my early primary school years - that's all I have left! And they're so different to the work books of the students I teach now in 2014.

Here's a little peek into my childhood rainbow obsession...

There is something so visually appealing to the eye when the colours of the spectrum are in perfect rainbow order. I remember learning how to blend and fade colours in art class during my early years of high school. Art now is one of my favourite lessons to teach! My students to write their letters or spelling words in rainbow colours, I teach them the rainbow order, whenever we draw a landscape picture there is often a rainbow in the sky and classroom displays utilise the rainbow colour order wherever possible.

Have you ever arranged a book shelf in the rainbow order?

I think every child should own one of these stacking toys 
(Left - Fisher Price, available everywhere. Right - IKEA)

Click here to see one of my friend Sarah Tamblyn's activity ideas where her two little guys learnt the rainbow order while enjoying playing in the Tupperware cupboard!

And here are some inspirational rainbows finds from my Pinterest page and Etsy favourites!

1. Wooden Rainbow Stacker (click here to see this item on Etsy)
2. Rainbow Bunting (this item is also available on Etsy but would probably be simple to make)
3. Rainbow Rose Science Experiment (click here to go to my Pinterest page for a tutorial)
4. Rainbow Button Monogram (item no longer available on Etsy but a simple idea to DIY)
5. Paper Plate Rainbow Sun-catcher (I did this with a class of 5 year olds and it worked really well!)
6. Sarah Tamblyn Designs "Rainbow Magic" Print (click here to visit her shop)

Keep a look out for my next post "Three Fun Things To Do With Food Colouring" that continues this rainbow theme (psst do I have any readers out there yet? If so you can now subscribe to my blog by email and you'll be notified every time I post).

Thanks for reading & I hope you enjoyed this very special post :)


Raising Bookworms | Homemade Books

My last post in the "Raising Bookworms" series is all about homemade books you can create and personalise for your little one (thanks to a mummy friend who gave me this idea - you know who you are!)

As mentioned in my previous post, young children love touchy/feely books, so I had a go at making my own. I used textures such as feathers, wool, sandpaper, bubble wrap, cotton wool and shiny contact (pictured below), glued them on to thick cardboard, punched a hole in the corner and joined the pages with a keychain. The only thing I found was that this texture book was so well loved that the corners got a bit soggy and pages started to fall out!

Another handmade book similar to the texture book I made was with photos of our family. This too was well loved and didn’t last for more than a few weeks (laminating would have been a great option to make it sturdier). So for Christmas I made my little one her own family photo album (see below). She LOVES looking at the familiar faces and the aim is to nurture her early language skills at the same time as recognising her immediate family (at ten months she can say 'mum' and 'dad' when she sees photos of us!).

I came across Pint Size Productions, a website where you can make personalised board books. What an amazing idea! However they are quite pricey and based in the US so postage (to Australia where I am) is expensive. But I'm thinking this would be a nice birthday present idea…even for the next few birthdays! Imagine your little one being the main character in a durable board book all about them…

 Click here for image source 
Ideas and themes for personalised board books include;
  • Me and My Family
  • A day in the life of ... (great for establishing daily routines)
  • My Favourite Things
  • Colours
Since writing this post, I have now been put onto a much more affordable way to get personalised board/photo books made. Visit Artisan State if you're interested...their "Little black books" are only $20 and very affordable shipping.

I've also seen this amazing idea of an alphabet photo book where each page is the child with or doing something starting with each letter of the alphabet (eg A eating an apple, B playing with a ball etc…) This may be a nice idea for a 3-5 year old who can enjoy looking at the special pages without damaging them. It's also a great way for them to learn their letters. You can make photobooks almost anywhere these days! I love to use Officeworks.

Finally, I'm always seeing ideas on Pinterest, for various uses for paint swatches that you get for free from the hardware/paint stores. One such idea was to make a colour book - and I got crafty this weekend and did just that! (Tip - get two of each colour paint swatch and laminate back to back so you get a double page of colour).

So whether you buy books from the shop, give them as a gift, borrow from the library, buy from an op shop, swap with a friend, make your own or all of the above - aim to establish and encourage a life long love of reading in your child (or the little people in your classroom).

Thanks again for reading,


Raising Bookworms | Books I Love

Today's post is organised into four age groups;
0-1 Year
2-3 Years
4-5 Years
6-8 Years
Each section explains some of the typical reading skills to expect for the age group, together with some of my favourite books. Of course, many of the books I've suggested can be enjoyed by children of any age :)

Reading Skills & Book Recommendations 0-1 Year

I believe it's never too early to instill a love of reading in your child! Babies are soothed by hearing the sound of their parents voice and reading time provides opportunities for special bonding. At around 6 months - 1 year babies and toddlers develop several understandings such as; 'this is a book', 'it's different to my other toys', 'it has pictures', 'I can turn a page', 'I can open and close the book', 'I listen to mum or dad say the words'... At this early stage, reading can also be a useful part of the bed time routine.

So... at the moment my little ten-month-old LOVES this series of Kate Toms classic stories. As described on the blurb 'Rhyming text and beautiful hand stitched illustrations make this an ideal book for parents and young children to share'. The Wheels on the Bus is my little one’s favourite, perhaps because its my go-to song when she’s grizzling in the back of the car. I quite often invent my own words as I sing to her in the 'wheels on the bus' tune... "we are going to Nana's house, Nana's house, Nana's house, we are going to Nana's house, yes we are" :)

She also is VERY interested in this Usborne series of touchy feely texture books by Fiona Watt. There are soooo many of them these days and every now and then I add to her collection. I often observe her pulling these books off her book shelf and gently, quietly touching the fluffy and fuzzy pictures... (My next post will include a section on handmade texture books).
image credit
Something to consider when selecting books for babies and toddlers - board books are so much more durable than paper books. You don't want to be worrying about pages getting ripped or dribbled on when you are enjoying special reading time!

Reading Skills & Book Recommendations 2-3 Years

By this stage, a toddler's language is really starting to take off and you will find they are probably little parrots copying everything you say! This is where books can help expand their vocabulary as they copy some of the key words you read and tell you what they see in the pictures. 2-3 year olds may also have started to develop favourite books that they ask you to read over and over again. They might even be able to 'read' these favourites by themselves!

The Spot series by Eric Hill has been around for years, but the loveably puppy is still a fantastic addition to your book shelf. Did you know Spot even has his own website?!?!

Another classic favourite of mine for this age group is Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell. Lift-the-flap books are especially exciting for little tikes, just remind them to be gentle!

Reading Skills & Book Recommendations 4-5 Years

When a child begins Kindergarten/Preschool at 4 years of age, they will probably be expected to sit and listen to the teacher read a story in a group situation. This is an important skill for them to learn before starting school. They may also recognise their own name, a few letters and maybe even some simple words. At this age I describe children's minds as little sponges - soaking up so much knowledge about anything and everything! In your child's first year of school (which is the year I currently teach) they will most likely learn letters, sounds, sight words and begin reading simple readers.

How could I go past Eric Carle? Such a well known children's author and illustrator, there is so much learning to be done when sitting down enjoying one of this books, many of which are suitable for this age group. During Term 1 2014 my Reception class will be doing an Eric Carle Author Study so I'll post some lessons and activity ideas in the coming months.

This series of "Feelings" books by Tracey Moroney is so appropriate for this age group. Young children are often overwhelmed by their feelings, so these books are a great way to help them make sense of their emotions. Do you have a four-year-old who sometimes needs to count to 10 and take some deep breaths when they're feeling angry? Try this book!

Reading Skills & Book Recommendations 6-8 Years

At this age, children's reading abilities will be quite varied, as all children learn at different rates. Some may still be mastering the basics, and some may be reading with fluency and borrowing novels and chapter books from the library! Have discussions with your child about what they are reading - Who is the main character? Tell me what's happening in your book. Read me a page...

As a child I remember spending hours looking through The Eleventh Hour and Anamalia, solving the riddles, finding the boy, cracking the code, looking for mice and admiring Graeme Base's detailed illustrations. During my teaching years, other books have joined my personal collection which delve into more complex themes. Uno's Garden is a unique way to investigate multiplication concepts and environmental issues with children. Jungle Drums is a lovely narrative about self confidence and the old saying 'be careful what you wish for'.

And finally, I couldn't help but include Dr Seuss! Appropriate at any age, however older children get a real kick out of them, having fun with the rhymes and tongue twisters. How awesome would some of these quotes be in a classroom display? I've also read/heard the lovely idea of a parent asking each of their child's teachers to write a message inside a copy of Oh The Places You'll Go and giving it to them when they graduate. Anyone have a child starting Reception/Prep/Kindergarten in 2014 who likes this idea?

(image credit)

I hope if you're a parent or a teacher, you've found this post useful. Please comment, share, pin and interact with my blog if you come across anything you like!

Happy reading!



Raising Bookworms | The Importance of Reading Aloud

If you're reading this...someone taught you to read. A teacher, a parent or most likely a combination of the two? Reading is a life long skill and the magic can and should be instilled in early childhood. This post is the first in a series of three all about READING, with today's focus on reading aloud to your child. I've been inspired to write this post by Reading Magic, a text for adults written by none other than Mem Fox (who we all know and love here in South Australia). This quick and easy read is full of excellent advice on how your child can establish early reading skills before they start school (the Mem Fox website also has a brief but useful 10 tips for parents).

Pictured here are some of my all time favourite Mem Fox books. I’ve seen two and three
year olds ‘read’ Where is the Green Sheep? with looks of pride on their little faces.
The following quote has resonated with me over the past 8 years since I graduated from uni…

“if every parent – and every adult caring for a child – read aloud a minimum of three stories a day to the children in their lives, we could probably wipe out illiteracy within one generation” (Mem Fox, Reading Magic, 2001, p 11).

What an incredible thought! A thought that should be shared far and wide! Yes, there is a huge responsibility for Early Years Teachers, but parents also have a significant part to play in laying the foundations for reading success. It's a partnership.

“Experts tell us that children need to hear a thousand stories read aloud before they begin to learn to read for themselves” 
(Mem Fox, Reading Magic, 2001 p 14).

Reading time with your child should be fun, enjoyable, a joy – not a chore. Young children love books with repetition, rhyming words, sing-song language and pictures that support the text (and perhaps most importantly, they love spending time with you!) Try to use expression in your voice when reading to your child (think high/low, loud/soft, fast/slow and pause where appropriate). Show enthusiasm, make jokes, use eye contact and facial expressions. And don't worry too much about formally 'teaching' them...“Entertainment is the teacher.” (Mem Fox, Reading Magic, 2001 p48).
To summarise Mem's three secrets of reading (which must go hand in hand)
1. Understanding print (letters make up words, and words make up sentences, and sentences make up books)
2. Understanding language (rhyme, repetition, making predictions about what word comes next, engaging in meaningful discussions)
3. Understanding how the world works (general knowledge & comprehension of what has been read)

So I'll leave you with this thought to ponder (source: Pinterest) ...

... and no age is too young to start reading aloud to your child.

If you'd like to learn more, here's a link to the Mem Fox website http://memfox.com/.
This link is particularly useful to hear Mem reading aloud some of her stories.

Please check back in soon for the second post in the "Raising Bookworms" series with some of my favourite books and typical skills for each age group.

Thanks for READING :)

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