Poetry and Kids

Towards the end of winter we had a “poetry feast” meaning we read lots of poems, wrote many and learned a little about the various types of poetry.

As usual the kids tried to write rhyming verse at first and then i showed them other types of poems and they became more experimental in their approach.

 

 

Each time we focus on poetry reading and writing I am always stunned by the joy and enthusiasm of ALL our students to read and experiment.

This year I added in a grammar component and we analysed the poems we read for use of strong adjectives, interesting proper nouns etc. It proved to be so effective for grammar revision but also showed students how real authors use grammar in effective, unusual ways.

During the lead up to Christmas we will be studying some spring/summer/Christmas themed poems and I look forward to the process.

So much of literacy can be reinforced with poetry including-

  • rhyming
  • phonics
  • grammar
  • literary and poetic devices

And of course- poetry gives my students an opportunity to express deep motions, examine ideas and beliefs and above all- have fun and experiment with words.

Our students love the fact that all the usual rules can be broken when writing poetry and when you are teaching “Da Vinci” type kids who are constantly experimenting and looking for adventures- poetry is a wonderful teaching tool!

 

“DOUBLES BOOKS” for Doubling Reading Progress

This is my second blog about DOUBLES BOOKS.

You may want to look back on the first one to read how they were started!

http://victoriacarlton.com.au/doubles-books-2/

Lately I have been using the strategy again- for my very visual learners who need lots of repetition and have lost their confidence with reading and spelling.

It is a method that harnesses their own interests and well worth the small amount of time it takes to construct these simple books.

They work particularly well for students from 4-8 years of age and beyond for those with learning problems.

Milly is a very creative 7- year old student. I see her once a week and she is intrigued with everything to do with fantasy.

Milly has done well with the Jolly Phonics program but her word-recognition and spelling skills are still a little low.

Recently she was keen to write a story about fairies and as I need to improve her word recognition and spelling skills, we used the DOUBLES approach in her tuition session.

Milly dictated her story to me. I typed it with a simple font she could easily trace.

Milly read it to me and did not complain about the doubled words. In fact, she was so proud that she could read the words 100% accurately!

Milly then chose colours to trace the words and neatly worked her way through our “book.”

She had her book to show Mum at the end of the hour and was SO proud.

Some readers might remember this approach from the LANGUAGE EXPERIENCE method. Simply double whatever they dictate and either leave lines for them to copy or provide traceable fonts.

This method is successful with young students who need a boost of confidence, word-recognition and spelling skills and really accelerates their literacy skills in a non-painful and enjoyable way!

 

 

 

Ready-get-set-go for the literacy adventure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

All parents watch with baited breath as their children begin their school careers and all hope for academic success and a life-long love of learning.

We watch closely for the signs that our child is truly reading and in many ways the first words read feel like a sort of “literacy magic” is being woven around our children. We relive our own school careers as we watch and nurture this learning process with our little ones.

There is much parents can do to help children prepare for success at school. It just takes a little planning and forethought to use the more “teachable moments” that occur naturally in our days.

In order for children to learn easily and maximise progress in literacy they must be at a specific stage of “readiness” for formal learning skills. Their bodies, minds and maturational clocks must be ready to begin.

In order to successfully learn early literacy skills, children need to develop phonemic awareness. This is simply the understanding that the English language can be broken into phonemes (the smallest units of sound). Parents can use a “silly, sound language “when talking to children to help develop auditory discrimination and help children hear all these parts. They can break their spoken instructions to children into units of sound so children clearly understand that all words are made of sounds.  E.G. M-e-ll-i-ss-a     p-l-ea-se    g-o   a-n-d   f-i-n-d    a  t-oy    f-or  b-a-b-y   -i-m!  Use this broken up speech often to emphasise the sounds in words. You can also ask children to give a sign such as a soft clap each time they hear a special sound e.g. “b” while you read them a story. These simple activities can have a profound effect on future decoding and spelling skills.

Reading stories often to children helps children switch on their inner “mind’s eye” and get ready for the imaginative component of reading and writing. We know that children who listen to stories improve their “linguistic store-houses” and this also flows over into comprehension and writing. As children listen to stories they add words to their spoken vocabularies, make mind pictures and start to comprehend narratives and thee ways they work. They also improve listening and comprehension skills.

Memory training is important for early readiness skills. Children need to develop their auditory and visual discrimination before successful reading and writing skills can take place. Auditory memory skills can be developed by insisting that children repeat instructions and then carry them out. Whenever you ask children to do a series of actions e.g. Get your school bag, pack your homework and go out to the car-ask your child to repeat the instructions. After a few months of this repetition they will automatically begin to repeat the instructions silently and it will facilitate your child’s ability to follow instructions at school.

You can also play memory games such as concentration with sight words or “I looked in my Grandmother’s trunk and I found a_______________” The next person says the same and adds one item and so on.

Children have to learn that repetition-although at times tedious and boring, is the key to basic skills such as spelling and multiplication tables. Children are helped with these skills by being able to perform a physical action such as bouncing a ball or jumping on a trampoline while practising the learning.

Visual memory skills are essential for effective reading skills and can be developed by asking children to compare pictures, look for differences, play flashcard games such as Snap and match up flashcards around the house. E.g. You can put signs on common objects –This is the fridge or bathroom-and children can match up their flashcards. This simple activity will really boost beginning reading skills and acquisition of sight words.

A knowledge of the alphabet is so important and has been demonstrated to be one of the key indicators that children are ready for formal learning. This can be developed by children saying the alphabet in different voices-loud/soft and maybe jumping/hopping as they say them. Ask children to trace the letters in bright colours, model the letters with plasticine and draw the letters in the air.

Both fine and gross motor skills are very important when children begin school. For successful printing to take place fine motor skills need attention. Allow children to cut, colour, paint and manipulate equipment and thread beads. It is a good idea to establish a “creativity box” full of recycling materials for making things and general enjoyment. Make sure you  include scissors, scraps of paper, materials and paints, crayons and markers.

Appropriate gross motor skills are crucial to learning. Children need to have the requisite balance skills to successfully sit at their desks and not continuously back and forth search in for a centre of balance. Take your children to parks and playgrounds to help them develop these all important skills. Well developed balance skills will help your child to be able to sit and listen well and concentrate.

They also need to be able to cross their midline with facility and so simple exercises where your child touches their left hand to their right knee, right hand to left knee (this can also be done while skipping, and forwards, backwards and on a small trampoline), will develop these essential midline crossing skills.

Do remember that if your child is showing tendencies to be left- handed, it is imperative you do not change this. Children can develop directional difficulties and speech and language problems if they are forced to change handedness. Do remember that many of the greatest thinkers in history have been left-handers and that there is a strong possibility of very strong creative skills being developed by these children.

Eye muscles need to move efficiently. Children cannot read if they cannot move their eyes successfully from right to left, and be able to copy from the blackboard-focusing and re-focusing as they complete a copying exercise. If children are not encouraged to play outside and use their eyes for looking near and far, and spend a great deal of time watching TV and playing electronic games, then these skills may not be well developed. Tracing a “lazy eight” in the air will help a great deal with this. Ask your child to imagine a big, fat eight laying sideways in the air (like an infinity sign) and then trace around it, starting from the middle and going up to the left. You can also draw large “lazy eights” on scrap paper for children to trace around in bright crayons.

Listening skills need to be at an appropriate level. It is vitally important that children can listen to instructions and carry them out in an exact fashion.  You can help this by talking to your children every day at the dinner table and ensuring the TV goes off at family meal times. Families that converse properly and really listen to each other, really help young children to learn the importance of listening. Listening to music and singing simple songs will help listening skills to develop.

Awareness of rhyme is important. Read nursery rhymes and nonsense rhymes regularly. This will increase the children’s sense of rhythm and rhyme- two important components of the early reading process.

There is an emotional component to the development of early literacy skills. Children know how you feel about their reading and will want to make you feel happy. They sense parental anxiety and then become stressed and even more unable to reach the high standards you may be setting. It is important to realise that all children have an individual maturational clock that ticks away until they are completely ready for the literacy process. Displaying anxiety and disapproval will only hold your child back and further delay their success. Trust the process, enjoy your child’s early attempts and celebrate every success together. All children learn in different ways and rates so do not compare them to their siblings and above all-soak them in books and model the literacy process yourself. Let your children see you reading regularly and perhaps writing in a personal journal. If they know you value literacy, they will also feel the same and the wonderful, magical literacy journey will begin!

Why are Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar in the Victoria Carlton Programs?

MODEL OF VC PROGS

Many people ask me why I have always included JOLLY LEARNING as part of the Victoria Carlton programs.

Reason is- they work! They help ALL learners to grasp the all important basics of phonics and grammar.

Then we use our brain stimulation, literature, comprehension and writing programs to build on this skeleton and add the “flesh” so that children become fully literate and really enjoy the process.

I refuse to use any program that is not grounded in careful research as children are not guinea pigs- they deserve the best- ALWAYS!

This is the reason we always include JOLLY LEARNING in our training for new licensees.

My vision for all students at my centers around the world to be fully literate and able to speak, read and write clearly in English.

Any of you who would like to know more about our licenses or programs for schools and children- please contact us directly at victoriacarlton@ iinet.net.au or call on 08 9 2714200.

Alternatively, if you are reading this in South East Asia, please contact Chew Yeh <chewyeh@september21.com.sg>

 

ELVES, WISHES, HOT CHIPS AND SPELLING!

 

 

elf

 

ELVES, WISHES AND SPELLING!

On Saturday we commenced our WINTER FESTIVAL.

I told the kids the old solstice legend of people hanging their wishes from trees for the elves to see and hopefully grant! The kids were keen to do the same so we hung our wishes on our learning tree.

I also told them that elves HATE spelling mistakes and don’t read wishes that are misspelled! What a change- they all checked their spelling carefully, checked in with teachers and used dictionaries. I have a feeling these spelling elves are here to stay at ICE!FullSizeRender (002)

I was fascinated to note their wishes. Many asked for gifts for their families. One child wished for immortality. A few asked for happiness and peace.

I truly believe rituals and celebrations are very important for children. They love the “wheel of the year,” and are fascinated by old traditions. They help children feel grounded, part of the community to understand their connections to the past.

This week and next we are celebrating this MIDWINTER time with a veritable festival of learning activities. We have even obtained a fake log fire to add to the atmosphere!fire

Here are some of our activities- they can easily be adapted for any classroom and are great to use at home!

  • Studying and writing about ice crystals http://encyclopedia.kids.net.au/page/ic/Ice_crystals
  • Mindfulness sessions- staring into a candle or fire and sharing what came into your mind.
  • Cook and eating wintery food such as baked potatoes, apple bread or hot chips.chips
  • Expressing gratitude for all the wonderful blessings we have experienced this year and setting goals for the warmer months ahead. You could light a tiny tea-light for each blessing children tell. (Keep up high!)
  • Reading and writing about the Earth’s orbit around the sun and why we have seasons.
  • You tube cold weather clips of crackling fires and snowy scenes. https://youtu.be/25SV6zqTl1k

https://youtu.be/zGD5C4wLsrs

So put plenty of layers on, make huge hot chocolates and celebrate this lovely deep, introspective season. It offers opportunities to go deep, get introspective, re-adjust the sails and just take a much needed deep breath!

 

Joyful Illiteracy? Yes! Yes! Yes!

Cuerda Desgastada

While our Aussie children are stretched and snapping, children from a far away country are thriving. Can you imagine a nation revelling in words such as THE JOYFUL ILLITERACY OF KINDERGARTEN CHILDREN? Well read the link provided at the end of this article!

While we are ripping children from sandpits and block corners to give them boring workbooks, the Finns are quietly allowing (actually encouraging) their young children to play and experiment and be active and NOT stressing about literacy. In fact their children enjoy extraordinary literacy standards with far fewer tests and worksheets.

They TEACH their children rather than continually testing. Over-testing of children is like digging up beautiful, flowering, healthy rose bushes to see if they have roots. Eventually they will wither. This is happening to our children- right before our eyes!

In Finland children are encouraged to play because the well documented power of play is understood by their educators. There’s an old Finnish saying, “Those things you learn without joy you will forget easily.” I would like to see that on a poster in every classroom in the world! (Universities as well)

Every 45 minutes, children in Finnish schools are encouraged to get up and go outside to play (even in cold weather!) We know what happens when children are allowed to freely move and actually get outside- better results!

So why are we modelling our system on those that do the opposite to these practices? Erroneous thinking, lack of research and knee-jerk reactions rather than calm consideration of what is actually best for children.

Will it only be when our classrooms are full of depressed, nervous and stressed out children who are stretched to breaking point and “snapping” like dry leaves that we will consider change? Well that is already happening. Even ONE child snapping and losing joy, confidence and a sense of I CAN is too many!

It’s time to say WE WERE WRONG and allow children to become children once more. Maybe it’s time to celebrate the joyful illiteracy of our own pre-schoolers and leave them in the sandpits if we want the high literacy standards enjoyed in Finland.

I’m off to jump in our sand-pit with some playful, creative pre-schoolers……..

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/10/the-joyful-illiterate-kindergartners-of-finland/408325/

 

 

 

MUSIC IS THE SWEETENER FOR LEARNING DIFFICULTIES!

21114525“Just A Spoonful of Sugar Helps The Medicine Go Down In A Most Delightful Way”
Music can help increase learning for children, particularly those with autism and other learning musicdifficulties.
Music activities provide much needed sensory input through mind and body stimulation at the same time to engage learning. A well-designed music programme will stimulate different parts of the brain at once to process rhythm, emotion and movement, while encouraging creativity, experimentation and exploration in a most delightful way!
Music helps the whole child engage both physically and mentally especially in the early stages of reading and decoding text. Because tempo, pitch and beat are crucial elements in learning to read, children who have been exposed to music demonstrate a higher ability to anticipate words, rhythms and concepts when learning to speak, write and read.

Exposure to singing, dancing and playing (a variety of instruments) help to develop and sharpen proper voice control, motor planning and fine-tune fine and gross motor skills.
Children who experience learning difficulties, if encouraged to participate in music lessons, are more easily able to practice and assimilate new concepts in grammar and punctuation .

This is key in allowing the child to engage faster and scaffold their learning more effectively.

Children with learning difficulties, in particular on the Autism spectrum, who are part of a consistent music program also demonstrate increased focus, more voluntary attention, better memory, increased social interaction and greater ownership and enjoyment of their literacy journey.

When a child with learning difficulties experiences success in music, this leads to increased self-esteem, effective fine and gross motor control, a greater awareness of the world around them and better social and communication skills.

Music can also enhance discipline and move a child towards a more positive, affirming attitude while giving them a sense of pride in their work.

Music is a means that enables a child with learning difficulties to show their emotions in a creative, non-verbal way they might not otherwise be able to express. Where once there was frustration anxiety, unhappiness, struggle and resulting behavioural difficulties, music is the spoonful of medicine that provides healing for a child experiencing learning difficulties and gives them a sense of achievement and purpose!

FIND THE FUN by Kelli Gander, Guest Blogger

Find The Fun

You can’t argue wPreschool childrenith Mary Poppins, who we all know is ‘practically perfect in every-way’ and there is more than one lesson to be learned from the timeless tale she has to tell. This one, for me as an educator, is the most important of all.
In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
you find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game
This has become my teaching mantra and I endeavor to ‘find the fun’ in every lesson that I teach. Imagine if kids got excited about the times tables, eager about spelling, enthusiastic about parts of speech! Learning does not have to equal boring, we just have to find the fun for our students.
How do we do this? The same way that Mary Poppins did, with a game! Games not only provide the hands on experience that children need to be effective learners but also makes even the most boring concept a whole lot more exciting.
A simple pack of cards becomes a speed game to make number bonds to 10 or a spirited competition to multiply the face values. Older children use them to learn about adding, subtracting, regrouping and multiplying. Younger children use them to sort, match, do shape work and learn 1-1 correspondence. Games do not need to cost you money either, there are so many fantastic sites where enthusiastic and dedicated teachers post and share their amazing, free ideas, on how to create that ‘element of fun’.
A treasure map is a perfect way to teach children about prepositions. Lego is an awesome way to learn about volume and measurement and you would not believe what can be done with a paper plate in terms of fractions and equivalent fractions!
We often do this naturally with younger children but our older ones do not outgrow this need for ‘fun’. In actual fact, the sometimes dry topics that are curriculum essentials, would receive much greater benefit from applying a ‘games based’ approach.
So step away from that smart board. Put down those worksheets and open your mind to games. We know it worked for Huckleberry Finn, when he managed to cleverly persuade his friends to trade him small treasures for the privilege of doing his work! Just find that element of fun and snap! The job’s a game.

Music MATTERS! by guest blogger Joanne Sundra

Children In Singing Group Being Encouraged By Teacher“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
– Plato

Teaching music to kids is CRUCIAL- not an optional extra!

When learning music students learn to let language flow and improve auditory memories through listening to beats and copying rhythms.

Repetitions when singing charted songs improves word recognition and reading fluency.

Children LOVE to make up simple songs about their daily happenings and this increases their MUSICAL INTELLIGENCE.

They can take favourite books and poems and sing them. (Just like in the popular TV show Spicks and Specks)
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Music forms a bridge of understanding so children may learn about the world through stories and songs.

Many concepts are learned and deepened when children learn nursery rhymes and common songs.

Children with speech problems such as stutters, improve when given daily music practice.

Many children can remember facts about tables, grammar and spelling rules by singing simple songs written to help them revise these concepts.

The music and maths intelligences have many connections and the sense of order and harmony in music is expressed in the patterns and order of mathematics.

Music is an effective stimulus that affects students’ emotions and makes the memory work more effectively. Think about the memories that flood in when you hear favourite pieces of music.

Elderly people can recall first loves, people with alzheimers can be helped to improve memory with regular music sessions.
Music is a POWERFUL learning tool!
By using music in the curriculum, teachers create an environment that is conducive to learning, stress is reduced, and the stage is set for SUCCESS!

We will be commencing JOLLY MUSIC this term and teaching children to listen, concentrate and respond to simple instructions. They will learn to use their voice as an instrument and auditory memory, phonological awareness and understanding of rhyme will improve.

There is no doubt that maths and literacy skills increase when carefully sequenced and well – researched programs such as JOLLY LEARNING are used with children.

All CHILDREN DESERVE THE CHANCE TO LEARN MUSIC!

Tomorrow we will write about ways parents can effectively integrate music into their home environments to promote harmony, a sense of fun and improved learning outcomes.
Call 92714200 or email iceinfo@iinet.net.au for more information about our programs.

THE SANDPITS ARE EMPTY

children's playground and sandpit

The sandpits are empty
The Block Corner’s dead
A child is now only a bodiless head!

 

Within all the research about brain plasticity, brain stimulation, accelerated learning, directed and explicit learning a robbery has taken place.
Children are being robbed of their childhoods.
We’ve lost sight of what children need and who they are.
They are being hooked up to machines that supposedly take the place of teachers or parents and left to repeat and repeat.
They are sitting in rows looking at flashcards and parroting answers.
The sandpits are empty, the block corner is quiet.
Their eyes look dull and it is obvious they are starting to perform like trained seals.
Is this what we want for our children?
Is it REALLY all about results? Results of what?
Sure, we must teach in the best way possible and there is nothing wrong with explicit teaching methods – we use them every day.
What IS wrong is the lack of thinking, experimentation and curiosity driven learning.
I WANT Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar and many other effective literacy and numeracy programs to be used in schools. I just don’t want these used to the detriment of social skills, motor development and general vocabulary development.
We can take steps to make sure this does not happen. We just need to THINK.
Children could trace their spelling words in sand-pits, learn about volume and capacity in the sandpit and build a model of the narrative they have been listening to.
They could use plasticine to model sight words and numbers.
They could build simple structures to help them understand a spelling rule.
Who ever said that learning has to be boring and have a punitive feeling?
Are adults so angry with their fun-less lives that they have to rob children as well?
Worksheets are not always the way. Properly designed worksheets may help children to pass specific exams and practise skills that require a great deal of repetition but there is ALWAYS an alternative – even if it involves a little more planning.
We did need a U turn in Australia. For many years we had a lack of curriculum documents, laissez faire attitude and “she’ll be right” does not work in education!
BUT – we did not need the big NAPLAN stick and the factory approach that is robbing children of their right to just BE, to think, to wonder and to dream.
Some balance PLEASE?

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