Sharing Early Literacy Learning Journeys

Archive for the ‘Children talking’ Category

A tawny frogmouth, a blue-tongue lizard and a baby wallaby

What do these three creatures have in common?
They are a live native bird and two animals brought to school this week by Wildlife Carers in their ‘show and tell’ to our Year Ones – as part of our current unit of study about Australian Animals.

It’s Tuesday morning and we have four visiting speakers to talk about caring for animals:

  • two wildlife carers and the above Australian natives
  • a vet’s nurse and her Golden Retriever
  • a City Council worker and her big mascots, Mal the dog and Milo the cat
  • an RSPCA inspector

The children respond with excited, informed comments, superb drawings and quality, detailed writing.

It really is a blue tongue!
The ‘cute’ baby wallaby is a favourite with many children
The dog is another favourite
This ‘dog’ is special too!
What visiting speakers have you had in your classroom recently?

100 days and Sports Day

On Friday, we celebrated One Hundred Days in Year One. Everything we did was connected to 100. The children brought 100 things to school in various containers and counted them – demonstrating different ways of grouping: tens, fives and random!

Check out this link to my More than Reading Newsletter to find out more about what I do for my 100 Days Celebrations.

On Thursday we have our Junior sports day. The sprints are before lunch and games are after lunch: high jump, discus, relays, parachute and skipping. There’s also a connection to literacy as the children see and sing their team ‘War Cries’. Now let’s get ready to go…

Ready to go!

Anyone have ideas from their 100 Days Celebrations to Share?

Masses of moths in the mango trees

“Have you seen the moths in the mango trees?” asks my colleague as she walks up the stairs.
“No. What moths?”
“Look out the window and you’ll see them.”
I look. I see. I grab my small camera and rush down the stairs.

Children, parents and teachers stand in awe of the hundreds of moths flying in and around the big mango trees. Unfortunately I cannot get good photos – the moths  fly fast and rest little. I swing by the library for books on moths. Our resident expert on local wildlife tells us they are Queensland day-flying moths and she downloads and prints pictures from

Queensland day-flying moth (photo papillon 1319)

Soon after the bell I take the children to the mango trees – as do many teachers in our school. The moths flutter and fly in and around the mango trees stopping only to drink the sweet nectar.

Day-flying moths in mango tree

We head back to the classroom all the while watching the moths. We talk. We write – shared writing is about the moths.

Shared writing after seeing the moths

We read books about moths and make a chart about differences between butterflies and moths – but we do not find this moth in the books. Back to Google… 

           How are butterflies and moths different?

       Butterflies                                                   Moths
*Usually fly in daytime                           *Usually fly at night
*Usually bright coloured wings              *Usually dull coloured wings
*Rest with wings above their bodies     *Rest with wings spread out flat
(from its back)
*Antenna may have a knob      *Antenna may be ‘feather-like’ or plain at the end
at the end
*Slender, hairless bodies                      *Fat abdomen and furry bodies

We realise that this moth is called the Day-flying moth for a very good reason!

Tell us about moths or butterflies in your area…

Second semester starts: What’s in store?

The morning sun struggles through grey clouds and a gentle breeze greets me as I walk to the beach. The sand is cold beneath my feet. Small waves tumble forth leaving frothy white lace at the water’s edge. A dozen thoughts race through my head. It’s back to school tomorrow for the start of second semester. What’s in store for the first week?

Monday – Early Years’ professional development
The first day of a new term is traditionally pupil free with professional development (PD) for teachers. Today I present a session, in keeping with the brief, ‘focus on literacy in the early years’, with practical ideas for the classroom and links to the curriculum’. More on my session later…

Tuesday – children return
Talking, talking, talking. That’s Tuesday. The children always have so much to say after two weeks away from school, classmates and friends. Everyone gets to share – and to draw and write. Journal writing is especially exciting because as always, the children are free to write on topics of interest – no need for the restrictive request:  What did you do in the holidays?

Read more in my related article, Children write about items of interest – holidays or not’,  published in Practically Primary in February 2010.

Wednesday – new ‘old’ books to share
I can’t wait to share some new books with the children on Wednesday. I am not a shopper but sometimes I browse – books stores and second hand stores are my favourites. On the holidays I found several ‘old’ books and snapped them up:
The cat on the mat and friends, by Brian Wildsmith

Cat on the Mat and Friends

Arthur and Always Arthur, by Amanda Graham

Arthur and Always Arthur

A Sausage Went for a Walk, by Ellisha Majid & Peter Kendall
I remembered this one because one year a boy came to school already reading and he read this book to the class on the second day of school – interestingly, I hadn’t seen it since.

A Sausage Went for a Walk

Say ‘Hello’ Wombat by Steve Parrish
This one is new. It has superb Parrish pictures of Australian animals with a repetitive and rhythmical storyline – so it will be interesting to see if the children take to it or not. Will it be taken as a ‘story’ book or as an appealing book to read? Stay tuned.

Say "Hello" Wombat

Friday – 100 day party
We have been counting and recording the number of days at school all year and it’s time to celebrate 100 days in Year One. Well, actually it will be day 99 for us – but we could not have a ‘party’ on a Monday!

Last year's 100 day count

P.S. Twitter
Over the past few days I had a taste of the Australian Literacy Educators’ Association (ALEA) conference in Melbourne via Twitter at @ALEA. Participants tweeted during sessions with notable comments from presenters, including Debbie Miller, Gay Su Pinnell, Susan Hill and Trevor Cairney. Yesterday I received Trevor Carney’s plenary address on his blog at and I was excited to read his statement ‘the words of literature are economical and powerful’ – with clear examples from books to demonstrate his point.

For people still on holidays, enjoy!
For children and teachers returning to school this week, enjoy!

Are you trying something new with your class this term?

Great Day for ‘ch’: Child brings baby chicks

With thanks to Dr Suess for Great Day for Up, ours is a Great Day for ‘ch’.  
A child brings in four little chicks. They go cheep, cheep, cheep, cheep, cheep.
Children chatter about the chicks and cheer when the chicks run, jump and fly.

The children observe the chicks.  We take photos and make notes.
Children exclaim…
“Look at him jump.”
“Look out! She’s trying to fly.”
“They’re scratching and pecking the floor.”
“Now they’re cleaning their feathers.

Children talk, draw, write, read and share their work.

A lone brown chick on our mat area.

All 4 chicks on the mat area. They didn't want to go on the white paper in the foreground!

Before writing, children brain-stormed words about the chicks

Trevor's drawing of the brown chick to accompany his writing.

Carl's drawing and dictated sentence about the happy chick.

Mariah’s colourful drawing of 4 yellow chicks.
What pets have come into your classroom?
Tell us about an experience with a pet in your classroom.


Celebrating children: Under 8s day

Under 8s week was May 20-27. Our school celebrated our young children on Friday. The canopy and nearby grassy, treed area were dotted with ‘stations’ where children, younger siblings and parents participated in activities including:

  • playdough
  • blowing bubbles
  • making kites, crowns and masks
  • finger, face and easel painting
  • coloured chalk on blackboards and black paper
  • magnetic fishing
  • a giant parachute and
  • dancing


Through the eyes of a child: a playdough person.

I can write my name!

A child had his face painted as Hulk, then drew about it.

Face painting was popular.

The giant parachute was popular too!

 Looking for ideas to celebrate early years children in your school or your classroom? Click here.

What sorts of days for celebrating your children do you have in your state, province or territory?
In your school?
In your classroom?

An echidna in my backyard

The excitement began first thing Monday morning when Nyssa and her dad told us about an echidna they found when her dad was landscaping their backyard. Nyssa (aged 6) wrote about the echidna. Later we found pictures and information about echidnas. This is Nyssa’s story with her dad’s photographs…

An echidna in my backyard

I saw an echidna in my backyard on Saturday. I had a sleep over with my best friend Gretal and when we went outside, my dog found the echidna. It had spikes and the echidna was digging down.

Gretal, Meg and I played ponies together and then my dad gave us the picnic rug and we had alphagetti and cheese sticks. We had fun and after our picnic we went back to see the echidna. The echidna was gone. We liked the echidna. It had black and light brown spikes.

Then I was happy because I knew he was safe. I think he went to look for a new home to live in. I hope the echidna likes his new home. I liked the echidna and he liked me. I hope he doesn’t lose any spikes.

The echidna was digging down, down.
His spikes were black and dark brown.

Have you seen an echidna outside of a zoo?

 What do you know about echidnas?



Lively learning on Japan Day

Japanese is the Language Other Than English (LOTE) taught in our school. To raise money for the Japan earthquake and tsunami victims, our LOTE teachers and Japanese parents organised ‘Japan Day’. The student body then participated in various cultural activities on offer. The activities included:

      • Mizu yoyo (water balloon yoyo with an elastic ‘string’)
      • Origami (paper folding)
      • Kimono dress up time
      • Jan Ken Pon (paper, scissors, rock)
      • Kendama (wooden toys)
      • Hachimaki (headbands)
      • Zumba

        Mizu yoyos waiting to be chosen by excited children

        Dressing up in kimonos was a favourite activity
Headbands were a favourite too. This one says ‘Pokemon’

Jan Ken Pon (paper, scissors, rock) was also a favourite – partly because if a child beat the mum opponent, the prize was a lolly!

Sushi and rice balls
 Sushi and rice balls are already on the Tuck Shop lunch menu – but LOTS were eaten on Japan Day.
A class book
Next day, we brainstormed words about the experience and listed them on the whiteboard. Then, the children wrote about their day. In conversations about the writing, we talked of adding information, details and feelings.  The children drew colourful pictures on their printed pages of writing and added the pages to an A4 display book. Voila!  A class book for shared, independent and home reading.

Class book of children's writing and pictures about Japan Day

Class charts
Digital photos were used for class charts and displays with pictures, captions, labels and ‘stories’.

A visual PowerPoint
Photos and captions of the activities are on a lively and colourful Powerpoint presentation for classroom use.

Classic Language Experience
Japan Day was a classic Language Experience activity where we:

  • shared a hands-on class experience
  • shared spoken, written and visual language about the experience
  • brainstormed, wrote and used words about the experience
  • constructed class sentences about the experience
  • wrote and drew about the experience
  • made a class book from the children’s writing – for shared, individual and home reading
  • used photos, captions and sentences for reading charts and displays of the experience
  • used the children’s writing as high interest reading materials
  • re-lived the experience by interacting and re-reading the children’s work/products 

Sayounara…and please leave a comment

What did you like about Japan Day?

What new Japanese words did you learn?

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