My interview with Shevonne Hunt on Kinderling Kids Radio discussed some tips for parents with young school-aged children learning to read and some great titles to get children passionate about reading?Read More
Yippee it's Mother's Day on May 14. Sleep in, tick; breakfast in bed, tick and those gorgeous home made cards, notes and gifts; tick-a-doodledoo.
I am an absolute sucker for heartfelt thoughts wrapped up in notes, cards, tissue paper flowers and origami chatterboxes, it is just so beautiful and I treasure the looks on the girls' faces each year when they hand them over in glue ridden hands.
This month on Kinderling Radio, I discuss with Shevonne Hunt how these home-made masterpieces are not only the rite of passage for mother's and their offspring but they are valuable literacy opportunities that we don't even realise.
For the podcast listen here or read below.
The importance of special occasions like Mother's Day in assisting children to draw out their emotions and give them opportunities to put feelings into words cannot be undersold. This could be for a mum, grandmother, close relative or female guardian in a child's life. It helps children recognise that sometimes they may not be able to say how they feel, but they can write their emotions down. It shows them the impact written words can have on someone and how they can be treasured.
Writing down personal thoughts and emotions develop a sense of reflection and emotional intelligence.
Home made Mother's gifts are a time honored tradition and fun to make. To get them started, children will need cues or questions posed, to draw out what they want to say. This will in turn help them work out what they want to make. Question prompts from a supervising adult will kick start the imagination (warning: these questions may also be a source of immense horror).
- What is it that mum does that makes you laugh?
- What do you and mum love to do together?
- What does mum do, to make you feel better when you are sad?
- Is there something about mum that is different from all the other mum's? (loaded question alert).
Here is my gift suggestion list, but after working on your question prompts I am sure your kids will come up with their own ideas for Mother's Day:
o A jar of '5 Things I love about you' - small scrolls rolled up inside a jar with reasons why your child loves their mum. It's like a lucky dip. I have one on my desk given to me by my 11 year old and I love pulling a random one out every so often.
o Some children who have difficulty expressing themselves my like to find a favourite quote from a book that reflects how they feel. Write it out and decorate it and pop it in a frame. Eg. 'I love you to the moon and back' or my personal favourite 'I Love You 5 Lollipops'.
o Create a scavenger hunt with notes about what we love or admire in mum hidden around the house - this a great activity for really young kids to do with the assistance of the other parent as it adds a hide and seek element. Also good for kids who aren't overly crafty.
o a simple homemade card is always a great idea but encourage the child to write more than just 'Dear Mum, Happy Mother's Day Love, _____' give them cues (like the questions above) to expand their thoughts.
o A song, poem or skit for kids who love performing or who play an instrument. Their creation will come from writing down their thoughts and developing a song or script.
o A voucher book made up of things that the kids will give or do for their mum. Eg. a voucher for 10 kisses or hugs, a head massage, or making a cup of tea. They need to think about what their mum really enjoys or appreciates. This may also require some realistic assistance from the other parent otherwise you could be up for a new Maserati or a pair of Manolos.
Mother's you may discover some aspects of yourself that you weren't necessarily ready to hear but it will be delivered from those who love you most. Have a beautiful Mother's Day we all deserve it.
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It was lovely to pop in to Kinderling Radio again this week to discuss what most kids (and children's writers for that matter) find really hard; planning and writing a story.
I was guided by the lovely Shevonne Hunt through my first live interview (yikes) as we discussed ways to start this process even with very young children before they can read and write independently.
You can listen to the podcast here:
Below are some of my thoughts, tips and downloadable and online tools for you to use if you are wanting to support more of these sorts of activities with your children.
Helping kids to find the fun in planning and writing their own stories isn’t about trying to create literary geniuses, but empowering them and giving them confidence in their own abilities to tell a story.
· Toddlers and Kinder aged children.
o When reading their favourite books to them, ask them to embellish the story by creating their own characters and different endings. For example if there is a cottage in a forest in the background of a story, ask the child, ‘Who do you think lives in there? What would they look like? If you were ‘in charge’ of the story how would you make the story end?’
o Discussing the important elements of what makes up a story as you read will also help them with story structure. What is important about the beginning? What happens in the middle of a story and why do you need an end?
· Primary aged children.
o Story starters are a great way to get kids to practice their storytelling techniques but with a prompt to get them started. This could be a story starter that you make up or one you find online.
o Often acting out a story before writing it can help generate their creativity rather than sitting and staring at a blank sheet of paper or screen.
o Planning a story can be perceived as just adding more work on to writing a story, but if you remove the word ‘plan’ and use words like ‘sketch’ or ‘draw’ then it takes on a more creative tone and sounds less like school work.
o Use butcher’s paper on the floor and pretend they are creating a television show and draw a series of boxes that look like they are screens. Delineate between a beginning, middle and end and have the child create a series of simple scenes that help to order their story. Once they have created their story board then they can sit down and write out their ‘script’ to go with their show.
· The more you can use colour and imagery, the easier kids find it to visualise scenes and characters.
· Holidays and celebrations are also a good opportunity to get excited about story telling. Halloween is coming up which doesn’t mean stories have to be scary, they can be just funny, gooey adventures. Download a Halloween story plan here.
· Online tools
o For younger kids Learn English Kids Story Maker creates a story for them based on their preferences but puts them ‘in charge’ of how the story goes. A great starting point.
o Lovers of Dr Seuss stories can create simple 3 scene online stories with music and dialogue. Seussville Story Maker
o Scholastic have an interactive story starter program that allows kids to start by picking the type of story they want to create, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi or a mixed style. Scholastic Story Starter Select an age appropriate level that encourages the child push a series of buttons and levers to come up with a story idea that they can write online in a format that they like eg a letter, postcard, newspaper t.
o For grades 3 – 8 why not try rewriting their own version of a fairy tale Fractured Fairy Tale
My Downloadable Worksheets.
Developing a story idea – what sort of story, characters, settings and events do you want to write about?
Creating a story arc – before you write your story what is the story arc or plan to keep your story interesting?
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1 cup rolled oats
1 cup gluten free plain flour or rice flour
2/3 cup cocnut sugar
2/3 cup desiccated coconut
125g butter, chopped
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
The cooking bit
Heat oven to 160°C/140°C fan-forced. Line baking trays with baking paper.
Combine oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a bowl.
Place butter, syrup and 2 tablespoons cold water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir for 2 minutes or until butter has melted. Stir in bicarbonate of soda.
Stir butter mixture into oat mixture. Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. Place on trays, 5cm apart.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden (see note). Stand on trays for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- 3 mandarins
- 1 cup (200g) Xylitol or other preferred sugar alternative
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups (250g) almond meal
The cooking bit
Cover mandarins (skin and all) with water, bring to boil then simmer for 1 hour.
Cool completely, remove seeds and puree. I will make extra and freeze the purée so you don't have to go through this broohahah each time.
Using an electric blender, beat the eggs and sugar together until thick and glossy (about 12 minutes), add the puree and almond meal. Stir well. Pour into a paper lined 22cm / 8-inch cake tin (a spring form tin is easier for removing later) and bake in a preheated 160C oven for 60 minutes.
let it cool in the pan for about an hour before removing as it will still be quite loose when you bring it out of the oven.
Serve with coconut yoghurt, fresh raspberries or ice cream of choice.
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